Pew Research Center: 67 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, MLB looks very different
From Jens Manuel Krogstad at Pew Research Center on April 16, 2014, with sourcing from SABR member Mark Armour:
Major League Baseball is celebrating Jackie Robinson, who became the league’s first African-American player on April 15, 1947.
Robinson’s entry led the way to integrated teams and a steady rise in the number of professional black baseball players. However, in recent years, there has been growing concern about the declining share of black players in the league.
The share of black MLB players reached a high of 18.7% in 1981, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. In 2014, 8.3% of players on opening day rosters were black. Before the most recent decade’s decline, the last time baseball had such a small share of black players was 1958.
As the number of black players has declined, baseball has seen a rising share of white players, a trend that stands in stark contrast to the steady decline of whites as a share of the U.S. population. In 2012, the percentage of white ballplayers (63.9%) increased to levels last seen in 1995, when 64.5% of players were white. Historically, the share of white players has been shrinking since the color barrier was broken, bottoming out at 60.3% in 2004. Since then, the percentage of white players has trended upward.
This page was last updated April 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm MST.