Jerry Brewer had an article in the Sunday Seattle Times complaining about the lack of African American baseball players in the major leagues.
The subject barely musters shock value now. Mention that the African-American baseball player is on the verge of extinction, and, at best, it inspires brief pondering. At worst, it prompts little more than an obligatory nod.
We already know he's dying. We figure there's little we can do.
This feels like a vigil.
"It's sad," says Dan Jurdy, the Rainier Beach High School athletic director. "It's really sad."
Only 8.2 percent of major-league baseball players are African-American, according to diversity expert Richard Lapchick's 2008 Racial and Gender Report Card. It's the lowest percentage in at least two decades. Some estimates have it as the lowest since the 1950s.
I say it is a good thing. First off, if you strictly look at the numbers, African Americans make up about 12% of the population in the US and account for 8.2% of MLB players. Now if you subtract out the foreign players, mostly Latin and Asian, that brings those numbers up to something closer to the population at large. The sad reality is a significant number of young African American males can not play in the majors because they are incarcerated. Subtract out that total and that would probably get you to right about that 12% number.
But here is my point... sometime in the past, say 20 years ago, if you were driving down the road and a top of the line Mercedes pulls up next to you and a fairly young African American is driving this expensive vehicle, your first reaction is I wonder what team he plays for. That was what I was thinking, that is what you were thinking. Not the case anymore. That guy could be a doctor, a lawyer, sell real estate or own a small business.
As long as kids think the only chance to succeed is playing pro sports, they will not hit the books and stay in school and become a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer or teacher. The reality is making a living playing sports is one in a million and the overwhelming majority just do not have the God given gifts that it takes. But they can graduate from high school and go to college and make something of their lives. That should be what we are concerned about, the number that graduate, not the number that can hit a ball with a bat over a wall.