It's Jackie Robinson Day, but Baseball Still Has a Problem With Black People

Getty Images

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his debut in Major League Baseball, becoming the first black player to cross the game's deeply entrenched color line. But nearly seven decades after Robinson made history, there's at least one position in America's favorite past time that's struggling to integrate: pitching.

Out of 449 pitchers on major league rosters this year on opening day, only 14 are black. 

"The cruel reality is that the African-American baseball player — whether prodded to abandon pitching or by their own volition — is being excluded from more than half the jobs in the industry."  — John Nightengale

Pitching is arguably the game's most important position, but black players are less represented there than they are at other positions on the field. The game does boast some high-profile black pitchers, including C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees and Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays. 

CC Sabathia of the New York YankeesSource: Duane Burleson/AP
CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees  Duane Burleson/AP

But overall, African-Americans make up just over 7% of players in the majors. Bob Nightengale did the math at USA Today and concluded, "The cruel reality is that the African-American baseball player — whether prodded to abandon pitching or by their own volition — is being excluded from more than half the jobs in the industry."

Source: USA Today
Source: USA Today

While Jackie Robinson has done plenty for baseball, the game still hasn't quite figured out this whole race thing.