Baker laments lack of US-born Black players in World Series

HOUSTON (AP) – Dusty Baker grew up watching black stars shine in the World Series, preparing his way to a life dedicated to baseball.

When he leads the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night, the AL and NL champions are expected to play without any US-born black players. for the first time since 1950, shortly after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

It’s a fact that worries 73-year-old Baker, one of only two Black MLB managers, who has spent his entire life either playing or coaching baseball.

“What hurts is I don’t know what hope it will bring to some of the young African-American kids,” Baker told the Associated Press on Thursday. “Because when I was their age, I had a bunch of guys, (Willie) Mays, (Hank) Aaron, Frank Robinson, Tommy Davis — my hero — Maury Wills, all those guys. We have to do something before we lose them.”

Jackie Robinson went out in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers and played in the World Series that year. Since then, the 1950 game between the New York Yankees and Phillies has been the only World Series without a US-born Black player.

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Houston and Philadelphia will announce their 26-man rosters several hours before Friday night’s Game 1 at Minute Maid Park, and neither is expected to have a US-born Black player. Michael Brantley, Black’s outfielder for Houston, is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

“I don’t think that’s something baseball should be proud of,” said Baker, who won a World Series as an outfielder with the Dodgers in 1981 and is seeking the his first tournament as a manager. “It looks bad. He tells people that it didn’t take a year or even a decade to get to this point.”

In fact, the declining number of Black MLB players has been a problem for years. Richard Lapchick, director of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports is the lead author for his organization’s annual reports on diversity hiring practices in sports. He said Black players made up only 7.2% of the opening day roster this year, the lowest percentage since survey data was first collected in 1991, when 18% of MLB players were black.

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Beginning in 1954, when Mays and the New York Giants played against Larry Doby and Cleveland, every team that reached the World Series had at least one US-born Black player. the 2005 Astros did.

The Phillies had no Black players on their opening roster this year for the first time since 1959. Roman Quinn, a Black backup, played 23 games before being released.

Philadelphia power rookie Darick Hall made his debut in late June and played 41 games – his mother is white and his father is black and white, and he identifies as biracial. Hall was not on the Phillies’ roster for any of the first three rounds this postseason and is not expected to be on the World Series roster.

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Last summer, for the first time in MLB draft history, four of the first five players selected were black.

The four, along with more than 300 major leaguers including Atlanta’s Michael Harris II, Cincinnati’s Hunter Greene, Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes and Milwaukee’s Devin Williams, participated in MLB’s diversity-based initiatives such as Academy MLB Youth, DREAM Series and the Reviving. Inner city baseball program (RBI).

Although he is “very disappointed and disheartened” by the situation this year, Baker is hopeful that the top of the latest draft will mean this is the last World Series where the US-born Black players represented.

“Help is on the way,” he said. “You can tell by the number of African-American number one draft picks. The academies make players. So hopefully soon we won’t have to talk about this anymore or even be in this situation. ”

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AP Baseball writer Ben Walker contributed to this story.

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