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Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Rod Nelson sent this to the SABR-L list. John Klima takes a thought-provoking look at the decline in the number of African-Americans who are playing baseball, and offers this possible explanation:
The last great generation of black stars, players such as Eric Davis and Darryl Strawberry, who entered the game in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, were players signed on the basis of how they played in high school and in sandlot games. That structure has now been replaced by an expansive system of travel baseball, an expensive undertaking that has prohibited many African-American kids from playing.
While the game trumps the arrival of young stars like Delmon Young and Lastings Milledge, it fails to mention that baseball attracts only the African-American players with enough affluence to support an amateur baseball career.
That explanation makes sense to me. There has been an explosion in travel ball and in the number of summer showcases over the past 5-10 years, and the showcases represent a fast - and relatively inexpensive - way to scout talent, both for the major league teams and for the colleges. If the inner-city African-American kid can’t afford to play travel ball or attend a showcase, well - that’s his tough luck (or as my Dad used to say, el tougho).
Also (thanks to Cris E):
St Paul Pioneer Press: The Changing Face of the Game—Baseball’s Blackout: Part 1
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