Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dave Roberts expressed his disappointment in MLB for having limited opportunities for Black players.
Los Angeles Dodgers‘ manager Dave Roberts “feels uncomfortable” with the lack of opportunity for Black players among MLB. Roberts called out MLB on Jackie Robinson Day. The organization annually celebrates this to remember the day Jackie Robinson made his MLB debut and broke the color barrier. The Black community, however, remains a noticeable minority in MLB.
According to the LA Times, “there are two Black faces managing in the majors, Roberts for the Dodgers and Dusty Baker for the Houston Astros. The percentage of African American players in MLB has fallen from 19% in 1986, according to the Society of American Baseball Research, to 7% on this season’s opening day rosters.”
Dave Roberts feels uncomfortable with the lack of Black opportunity in MLB
Statistically, baseball is doing extremely well in White-dominated suburbs where children have opportunities and funds to pursue the sport. MLB has funded youth league opportunities in baseball and softball through Black churches and Boys and Girls club community programs, but these programs don’t provide the same opportunities as travel leagues and more prestigious coaching.
“Baseball has become too White,” University of Michigan baseball coach Erik Bakich said at the Aspen Institute’s Project Play Summit in 2019, according to Global Sport Matters. “There’s a lot of great athletes out there, and I think it’s ridiculous the costs of travel ball and some of these showcases. It negates opportunities for a lot of kids.”
Black athletes are not given enough time to develop their skills, especially with a significant elimination of draft rounds and minor league teams. Roberts decided to speak up about the inequity of Black opportunity in MLB and made a powerful statement.
“When you’re talking about African American ballplayers, we need to do better. I think about it all the time. It’s really getting uncomfortable. When you’re talking about undeveloped, raw, talented African American players, that process takes time. It always has. When the draft is shortened, it just doesn’t give those same guys the opportunities. It also doesn’t give the organizations the opportunity to seek those guys or identify those guys. For me, you’re shortening the draft, you’re eliminating farm teams, you’re looking for more turnkey guys. The way the game has been for the last 20 years, those are people not of color.” -Dave Roberts, via LA Times
Roberts raises unique and beneficial perspective on the experience of being a person of color in MLB. It’s likely most effective and memorable that he chose to do so on a historic day in MLB for the Black community.