Major League Baseball, while having done a successful job attracting participants from places around the world like Japan, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, has often been criticized for the shortage of African American players.
In 2011, only 8.5 percent of players on Opening Day rosters were of African American descent, the lowest Major League Baseball has seen since 2007. While this year, that number is only up to 8.8 percent, the league is encouraged by recent trends that their recent efforts to attract African Americans is paying off.
The most notable of these endeavors is Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program. Additionally, the league has begun opening youth baseball academies throughout the country, with locations in Philadelphia, Houston, and New Orleans, among others.
The 2012 Major League Baseball Amateur draft provided the league with the first signs of light that their efforts are paying off. Since 1992, when 10 African Americans were selected in the first round of the draft, no more than five African Americans had been selected in the first round of a draft in any year. This year, however, seven of the 32 first round draft picks were African Americans, including the second overall selection Byron Buxton, who was selected by the Minnesota Twins.
In addition to Buxton, African Americans Addison Russell, Courtney Hawkins, D.J. Davis, Marcus Stroman, Victor Roache, and Lewis Brinson were also selected in the first round. The total of seven is equal to 22.6 percent of the first round of the draft, a dramatically higher figure than the 8.8 percent of African Americans who were on Opening Day rosters in 2012.
While the league is encouraged by the recent signs, they are still working effortlessly in their efforts to bring baseball to the youth of all ages and locations.
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