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Saturday, December 10, 2022

There is no black player in this World Series.

Looking around Memorial Stadium before the start of Game 1 of the 1983 World Series, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Gary Matthews spotted a lot of black talent.

Joe Morgan. Eddie died. Gary Maddox. Ken Singleton. Al Bambari. “Disco” Dan Ford. And much more that night in Baltimore.

“There were a lot of us,” Matthews recalls.

This week, when fans look at the lineups for the Houston Astros and Phillies to kick off the October Classic, the picture is about to be very different.

To take into account, Venezuelan Jose Altuve of the Astros; and Jean Segura, a Dominican of the Phillies, are just two of the many Latin American players who diversify on the payroll.

But for the first time since 1950, shortly after Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier, there would be no African-Americans in this World Series.

Zero.

“It’s revealing,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. “It’s worrying that in two cities with large African-American populations, there isn’t a single black player.”

“This tells us that there is clearly a lot of work to be done to create opportunities for black children to follow their dreams at the highest level,” he said.

Robinson debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and played in the World Series that year. Since then, the matchup between the New York Yankees and the Phillies has been the only World Series without Black players.

Houston and Philadelphia will announce their 26-player rosters several hours before the first game on Friday night at Minute Maid Park, where Dusty Baker, a black outfielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers who won the Fall Classic in 1981, manages the Astros. does.

Starting in 1954, when Willie Mays and the New York Giants played Larry Dobie and the Cleveland Indians, every team that made the World Series had at least one African-American player until the 2005 Astros.

During that half century, dark stars such as Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ricky Henderson and Frank Robinson shone in October. In 1979, Willie Stargall and Dave Parker were among 10 black players for the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the title.

For much of that time, baseball was clearly America’s dominant sport, the national pastime. Over the years, as football and basketball grew in popularity, baseball became more expensive, with an emphasis on elite touring and exhibition teams.

“Friends started moving on to other sports,” Mathews said.

“It’s a story that’s been going on since the late 1980s, the decline of black bowlers,” says Richard Lapchik, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.

Lapchik, lead author of the institute’s annual report on diversity in sports hiring, said black players made up just 7.2% of the major league payroll in the season opener. This is down from last year’s 7.6% and the lowest level since the data was compiled in 1991, when 18% of players in the majors were black.

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Associated Press New York staff writer Aaron Morrison contributed to this report.

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