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Orioles have no US born black players on team.


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Black players from U.S. strike out on Orioles' roster this season

However, 13 players are Latino or foreign-born

By Dan Connolly

Sun Staff

April 7, 2005

For the first time in four-plus decades, the Orioles' Opening Day roster had no black players from the United States, reflecting the dwindling number of black Americans in the major leagues, according to a study released yesterday.

Last year, 9 percent of major-leaguers were African-American, according to the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. It's the lowest percentage of black ballplayers in the majors in 25 years, the study states.

Last season, the Orioles' Opening Day active roster contained no African-Americans, though second baseman Jerry Hairston was part of the club while on the disabled list. Last year was the first time the Orioles didn't have an African-American in their starting lineup since 1961.

This offseason, Hairston was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Sammy Sosa, and the other two African-American members of the team's 40-man roster, outfielder Tim Raines and first baseman Walter Young, failed to make the big-league team.

"It'll be a sad day, really, for the Orioles, the organization and baseball," said Washington Nationals manager and former Oriole Frank Robinson when told about the situation earlier this month. "But it's not something that will shock me, because it started to happen over the years, that the overall numbers of African-Americans in baseball were shrinking at an alarming rate, but it doesn't seem to get anybody's attention."

Despite the lack of U.S. blacks, the Orioles' clubhouse is among the most ethnically diverse in baseball. Thirteen of the players on the 25-man roster are Latinos or foreign-born, which includes at least one from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Aruba and Canada.

"Obviously, the influx of the Latin American player has played heavily in our present and future," said Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan. "I don't think it was a shift consciously away from one and to the other."

Yesterday's opponent at Camden Yards, the Oakland Athletics, have only one African-American on its roster, reserve outfielder Charles Thomas.

When putting together this year's Orioles, Flanagan said he never considered whether his team had any African-Americans.

"When you scout, it's all about talent. Talent is talent. It throws me a little bit because I don't even think in those terms," Flanagan said. "My problem is I don't see color, I try to see talent."

Bob Kendrick, the marketing director for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., said he understands.

"It does sadden us, but [the Orioles'] job is to find the best players they can within their system and framework," Kendrick said. "If there are not any African-Americans that fit in that level of play, you can't blame the ballclub.

"But it is a shame to see clubs with such a rich history of African-Americans not to have any."

When Flanagan made his final Opening Day start for the Orioles in 1986, five of the nine members of the starting lineup were African-Americans, including Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. Only one starter was Latino. Monday, six members of the starting lineup were Latino, and the starting pitcher was Mexico native Rodrigo Lopez.

Throughout baseball, 26 percent of major-leaguers were Latino last year, according to the institute study, which gave baseball a D for its diversity hiring of general managers and an A for opportunities provided for minorities in coaching, managing and playing.

"Latinos, opposed to African-Americans, are just the opposite now [in terms of numbers] than it was, say, 10 years ago," Robinson said. "I don't think that's good, but what are you going to do?"

Robinson, a Hall-of-Famer who starred for the Orioles from 1966 to 1971, said there's not one reason for the drop-off.

For instance, he said, most foreign players don't have to enter the amateur draft and therefore can be signed more cheaply. Perhaps more important, Robinson said, is that baseball doesn't carry as much influence in black communities as it once did.

"When you had a male kid born, you put a bat, a glove and a ball in his crib," Robinson said. "He's going to be a baseball player. He wasn't going to be a basketball player or a football player or anything else. He was going to be a baseball player. That was the No. 1 way really to improve your lifestyle. Baseball."

That has changed, he said, with more opportunities afforded to African-Americans, from other sports such as basketball, to increasing academic pursuits.

"From my experience, I see a lot of empty baseball fields, and that's all over," Flanagan said. "I look back when I was a young player and we had a difficult time getting on to an empty field. Now, I see a lot of them empty."

And it might be worse in inner cities, said Joe Durham, the first black player to hit a home run for the Orioles.

"They [young African-Americans] are shying away from the game. It's too slow for them," Durham said. "Basketball, they can dunk the ball. Football, they can clown around in the end zone. Baseball is the hardest to play. It's the only game that you can fail seven of 10 times and be a star in."

For those in Latin America, though, baseball is the best way to improve one's life, said Orioles center fielder Luis Matos, who is from Puerto Rico.

"It still is, but I think it is going the USA way," Matos said about Puerto Rico. "Because we have all those things, like video games, and [kids] are paying more attention to that than playing baseball, basketball, volleyball."

Matos said baseball should construct academies here, similar to the ones in Latin America. "They develop the players at a very young age, but here they are not doing the same," Matos said. "They need to go into the neighborhoods that, money-wise, aren't established. And, they need to help them, so they get to professional baseball."

That process has begun, said Jimmie Lee Solomon, senior vice president of operations for Major League Baseball.

An MLB-run academy in Compton, Calif., should be up and running by August, Solomon said. It will be available to children ages 11 to 17 who want to improve their baseball skills after school, weekends and summers.

A similar project, championed by the Braves, is in the works in Atlanta.

Solomon said he hopes that within 10 years there are at least 10 similar academies. That is in addition to the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, which is active in 200 cities and provided baseball and softball opportunities to 120,000 inner-city kids last year.

Eventually, Solomon said, he hopes more African-Americans are not only playing the game but also are coming out to the ballpark as fans.

"Our numbers didn't dwindle overnight," he said. "And they won't pick back up overnight."

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun

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Well you can't say they're racist against blacks in general :lol:

But in all seriousness, that is true. There's been a dwindling interest in baseball lately, and from where I'm from, most don't want to play it because it's boring in comparison to football and basketball, where the pace is blistering quick. Baseball, on the other hand, is kinda slow at times, so that may be a reason why. We want fast paced action, and sitting in one place for a good 10 minutes at a time isn't fast paced action <_<

With that being said, I freakin' love to watch baseball :P

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Kid's follow their hero. It was Jackie Robinson, then Hank Aaron. After that you had Magic, then MJ, then Shaq for basketball. OJ, Walter, Barry, Emmitt, Vick, and Donavan in football. Barry Bonds is like the anti-hero.

Don't forget the BLING. NBA and NFL stars are always flashier than the MLB stars.

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In a related note, over here, fewer people are playing baseball. I saw that through my years in elementary school until the end of high school. A lot kids were into baseball because of the success of the Blue Jays. But as the Jays declined in popularity and in increase in immigrants, baseball interest has declined. In fact, by the end of high school, I saw more and more people playing cricket and soccer.

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i guess now they can call it, Mexican League Baseball. :D

baseball is an boring outdated 19th century sport, its no wonder most people are turning it off and the only people that want to watch it is immigrants primarily hispanic immigrants.

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i guess now they can call it, Mexican League Baseball. :D

baseball is an boring outdated 19th century sport, its no wonder most people are turning it off and the only people that want to watch it is immigrants primarily hispanic immigrants.

Oh my! I had no idea the Japanese were considered hispanic..... <_<

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i guess now they can call it, Mexican League Baseball. :D

baseball is an boring outdated 19th century sport, its no wonder most people are turning it off and the only people that want to watch it is immigrants primarily hispanic immigrants.

Dude, who are you. You spout racist $hit in every post you make and it's not cool.

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I don't care what color my team's players are. I just want them to win. Hence, I find articles like this one, and a similar "oh noes, Ricciardi made the Blue Jays a bunch of crackers!" referenced in the Moneyball epilogue, to be rather petty.

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It should not matter what the content of a team is I m sure its not out of racism. Just remember dark skin latin players were also banned before 1947. That includes Tejada and Sosa two central figures on the Orioles. Basebal if anything is becoming more diverse not less diverse, so the fact that the Orioles have 13 foriegn born players shoudl be the focus not bean counters making sure everyone is represented.

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Maybe I'm naive, but I love my Sox and Pats and never has it even occurred to me the percentage of minorities on the team. I love Big Papi, Manny, Pedro (even tho he plays for the Metropolitans), Millar, and Schill on the Sox. I love Brady, Branch, Bethel Johnson, David Givens, Tedy Bruschi, and Adam Vinatieri. I don't care what their nationality is, where their parents originated from, or any of that. That's what's so great about sports to me. Color has never mattered to me in terms of who I root for. It's about the game, not aabout something as arbitrary as the backgrounds of the people who play it.

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Well you can't say they're racist against blacks in general :lol:

But in all seriousness, that is true. There's been a dwindling interest in baseball lately, and from where I'm from, most don't want to play it because it's boring in comparison to football and basketball, where the pace is blistering quick. Baseball, on the other hand, is kinda slow at times, so that may be a reason why. We want fast paced action, and sitting in one place for a good 10 minutes at a time isn't fast paced action <_<

With that being said, I freakin' love to watch baseball :P

I wouldn't call football "blistering", Flame, if only because if you think about it, it's only about 50% strategy and standing around and 50% actual play. I mean don't get me wrong, I like football, moreso since I started playing the Madden series religiously (which has been three years now), and yes, I know you're making a comparison to baseball and it is faster than baseball and I'm getting off topic. :P

I could also go even more off topic and wonder why people over here haven't embraced rugby yet... it's faster than football, and my goodness, it's more violent than football. Fast paced and violent -- it's tailor made for Americans! :D

I don't think it's a matter of black or white or whatever. The fact is that the game is being embraced by Latin and Asian players who, seeing how successful players from their home countries are in the majors are doing, want to take up the game and make this their living. The same thing happened in the NHL and is happening in the NBA.

As far as other countries getting involved, the only reason I can think of that baseball isn't as popular in other Anglo-based countries is because baseball seems to be a mutant form of rounders (if I'm wrong, call me out on it). I watched cricket, i've played cricket, and as much as I like cricket, I like baseball better.

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But football, for the time that they're running the plays, is the fastest sport there is -- and I wouldn't say rugby is more violent than football. Generally, the hits you see in rugby don't even compare to those in football -- the reason for so much padding? They need it.

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As far as other countries getting involved, the only reason I can think of that baseball isn't as popular in other Anglo-based countries is because baseball seems to be a mutant form of rounders (if I'm wrong, call me out on it). I watched cricket, i've played cricket, and as much as I like cricket, I like baseball better.

that, and it seems cricket fans have a saying that goes "baseball is to cricket what checkers is to chess." give them cricketers round bats and we'll see what's what ;)

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