Swinging For the Fences



The lack of African-American players can be traced to multiple factors. For one, athletic kids are often scouted to play basketball and football. “The popularity of basketball and football both at the college and professional level has resulted in them becoming the most desired route for African-American student-athletes at a young level to go forward,” said University of Central Florida professor Richard Lapchick. “African-Americans are nearly 80 percent of the players in the NBA and nearly 70 percent of the players in the National Football League, and dominate also statistically at the college level.”

As fewer black athletes chose to pursue baseball, Latinos are represented in growing numbers. “The disparity can be traced, in part, to the competing economics of other countries versus inner cities,” Lapchick said. “Teams can often sign three or four Latin American players for every young African-American prospect.” But, said Brasuell, black fans aren’t simply losing interest in the game. “Sometimes there’s a misconception that baseball is suffering,” he said. “We are flourishing in the inner city. Most of our major league teams offer ticket programs. For years people have written about the lack of African-American fans, but in reality the level of African-American fans is higher than other fans.”

Without places to play, it’s impossible to attract kids and parents to the game. “You start with facilities where the game can’t be played or taught properly,” said Paul Curtis, a Detroit baseball coach who also plays in a competitive adult baseball league. “The batter’s box is 10 to 12 inches below the playing surface. You’ve got holes in the mound, so you never learn to pitch on it, and you’ve got holes in the batter’s box. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about a piece of glass bouncing up and hitting them in the face.”

Over the years, as a player and coach, Curtis has learned to adapt to the conditions. “People need to learn how to take care of the fields themselves,” he says. “The kids should be taught to maintain the environment. Every coach should have a rake and a shovel.”

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  • Anonymous

    Baseball was my first love! Last year I was wondering what had happened to blacks in baseball. I mean the players look like us now, but once they open their mouths, it’s obvious…they are not from where I am. Glad to see more kids are loving “America’s favorite past-time” (LOL) again!

  • http://www.facebook.com/djfrankied2011 Frank Hernandez


  • http://www.facebook.com/djfrankied2011 Frank Hernandez


  • http://twitter.com/Oaklandism No Drugs


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NT5ALOXXSZ5CFE4W2BJAEGYEG4 Aaron Visbeek

    Good to see the RBI programming helping so many players to the big leagues.

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