Rhoden: Jackie Robinson’s legacy recedes on World Series rosters

From William C. Rhoden at the New York Times on October 30, 2013, with mention of SABR members Lawrence Hogan:

When Boston and St. Louis first faced each other in the World Series, in 1946, there wasn’t a single African-American in either dugout. As the Red Sox and the Cardinals meet again 67 years later, there is one.

But by charting the franchises’ four postseason battles — 1946, 1967, 2004 and now 2013 — one can also chart the ebb and flow of black Americans first into, and more recently away from, Major League Baseball. The question baseball faces is whether it is too late to stop that trend.

“The trend can be reversed,” said David James, the director of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, a youth program operated by M.L.B. “Baseball has done a good job of recognizing that there is a problem and has put in a number of things each year to try to reverse those trends.”

James added: “It’s going to take a lot of time for the impact of some of these programs, particularly at the youth level, to start to develop players that move up to major league potential.”

The first Red Sox-Cardinals World Series came a year after the Red Sox were pressured into holding a tryout for Jackie Robinson, and a year before Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. By the time the teams met again in 1967, the African-American presence in baseball was 13.6 percent, the highest it had been. The Red Sox, the last major league team to integrate, fielded a starting lineup that included African-American stars like George Scott and Reggie Smith. They lost to a Cardinals team that was led by the Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Lou Brock.

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/sports/baseball/jackie-robinsons-legacy-recedes-on-baseball-rosters.html

Related link: Read “Baseball Demographics, 1947-2012,” by Mark Armour and Daniel R. Levitt

Originally published: October 30, 2013. Last Updated: October 30, 2013.