It is a fact. Black players in baseball are dwindling. And now Major League Baseball (MLB) plans to try and change this trend.
Gone are the days of Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield. According to MLB, 40% of players are from diverse backgrounds, “from non-Caucasian backgrounds. But when the number of African Americans is declining, and you have areas from our country that are underserved, that is a problem,” said Jimmie Lee Solomon, who is African-American and the current executive vice president of Baseball Operations in MLB, in a recent press statement.
Now MLB is looking to up the numbers of black players. Salary differences may be one cause of the decline. According to MLB Players Association calculations, the average salary was $3,340,133, just slightly more than the 2009 average of 3,317,475. According to the union’s accounting, the payroll of the 30 major league clubs is $2,765,630,418, representing a $55,253,618 increase over the 2009 payrolls. While according to the NBA Players Association, professional basketball players are the highest paid athletes in the world with an average salary for the 2007-2008 year at $5.356 million. This does not include outside endorsements. The average NFL player makes a about $770,000 per year, again not including bonuses or endorsements.
According to sports writer Chris Wilder, “There has been a decline in Black players partly because Latino players are cheaper. For the money that a baseball team would pay one African-American player, they can pay three or four Latino players. So, even if three don’t work out and just one is successful, the team hasn’t lost any money.”
Also Black kids are not encouraged to join baseball teams as they once were. Says Wilder, “It’s not that simple, though. Most inner city Black kids are never anyplace were there are 18 kids with bats and gloves ready to play. It just doesn’t happen. MLB has tried to make strides in the inner cities with their RBI program, but they’re not really developing talent out of that. They’re just kind of throwing money at the inner cities.”