Stats of Limited Value

The educators who concern themselves with such matters have issued their annual report on the racial makeup of the Major Leagues.

We’re advised that black players comprise 10.2% of Opening Day rosters. It’s the highest percentage since ’95. The all-time low of 8.2% was two seasons ago. We are supposed to think this is of some consequence.

I’ve always thought this was an ersatz statistic. Essentially meaningless, but certainly not indicative of any type of discrimination. The actual percentage of players who are of color is 39.2%. Twenty seven percent are Latino and another 2.4% are Asian. Ah, beware the yellow peril.

After Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the sport, the percentage of black players steadily increased. Which meant the percentage of Caucasian players would obviously decrease inversely.

It was a bit later until Latino ballplayers were given the same welcome. Yes, there was a Cuban — Luis Castro was his name — who played for Philadelphia Athletics at the turn of last century. But he was an anomaly.

The real breakthrough on this front came in ’49 when the Indians signed Minnie Minoso. He was both Latino and very dark skinned. He lead the way for Roberto Clemente and the significant number of great ballplayers from south of the border that came afterwards.

My point is this. Of course, there are less black players these days, and have been for awhile. For one thing, basketball has stolen the hearts of many youths, who, in past decades, would have played baseball. More important, there’ simply a greater percentage of Latino players from warm weather countries where kids are grabbing balls and bats first thing in the morning all year. Plus the American teams are finally realizing that those Asian players, coming from countries that adore America’s national pastime, are also the equals if not superiors of American ballplayers.

– Seedy K


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