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MLB turned away by athletes of African descent

Posted October. 29, 2022 07:30,   

Updated November. 06, 2022 17:54


When Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) joined the Brooklyn Dodgers (now Los Angeles Dodgers) in 1947, the racial discrimination policy of Major League Baseball (MLB) came to an end. The World Series started to welcome African Americans, with the Dodgers garnering victory in the 1947 National League. Since then, with one exception in 1950, there has been no World Series without African Americans as professional baseball players.

This legacy, which has lasted for 71 years, will end this year. This is because there are no African-American players on the World Series entries submitted by both teams on Friday, one day before the beginning of this year's series. Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley was the only African American to be included on the 40-man rosters for both teams, but he has been out of the game as he was placed on the injured list.

"This is something all the baseball teams should be concerned about," said “Dusty” Baker, manager of the Houston Astros, the only African American born in the United States to be at the helm of the MLB team. Baker was also the first to introduce the "high-five," once used to replace handshakes by African Americans at MLB stadiums as a protest against Caucasian players who were reluctant to shake hands with African-American players. Among African Americans, there are only two people in management positions of MLB teams: Baker and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose hometown is Okinawa, Japan.

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, in 1977, 17.9% of all major leaguers were African American when Baker first introduced the high-five. As of this year's MLB opening day, that percentage has dropped to 7.2%. “Most African American prospects are increasingly choosing basketball or American football over baseball,” the U.S. media reported. As a result, the popularity of baseball in the African-American community has also declined, and the popularity of MLB as a whole has waned as well.”

Meanwhile, Baker announced Justin Verlander as the starting pitcher for the first leg. This will make Verlander leave a record of starting in World Series games in the 2020s following the 2000s and 2010s. Verlander and Roger Clemens are the only two players in MLB history to make three World Series starts, once in every decade.

Dong-woong Kang leper@donga.com