Opinion: For Black baseball fans, a wholly unexpected new day is here

Opinion: For Black baseball fans, a wholly unexpected new day is here

Opinion: For Black Baseball Fans, a Wholly Unexpected New Day is Here

In the world of Major League Baseball (MLB), Black fans have long felt underrepresented and overlooked. The lack of diversity in ownership, management, and on the field has been a contentious issue for decades. However,

recent events

have brought about a new wave of hope and excitement for the Black baseball community.

New Ownership and Management

MLB’s newest team, the Miami Marlins, has made history by having a majority Black ownership group. The Loria family, who previously owned the team, sold it to a group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. Jeter, a former MLB player and Hall of Famer, will serve as the CEO. This shift in ownership represents a significant step forward for Black representation in MLB.

More Diverse Players

On the field, there is an increasing number of Black and Brown players. In the 2021 MLB season, for example, over 43% of all roster spots were filled by players of color. This diversity is not limited to the US; international players from countries such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela, and Japan also contribute significantly to this statistic.

Embracing Social Issues

MLB teams have started addressing social issues more openly. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, for instance, has been a topic of discussion in the baseball community. Many teams have shown their support by wearing BLM t-shirts during games and holding moments of silence. The Atlanta Braves even had a Blackout Day in 2020, where they encouraged fans to wear black to show solidarity with the BLM movement.

A New Era of Inclusion

These changes, while not perfect, represent a new era of inclusion in MLFor Black fans, this shift is not just about representation on the field; it’s about feeling seen and valued within the baseball community. With more diverse ownership, management, and players, MLB is making strides towards creating a more equitable space for all fans.

Opinion: For Black baseball fans, a wholly unexpected new day is here


Baseball, often referred to as “America’s pastime,” has a complex and intriguing relationship with the Black community. Historically, baseball can be traced back to its roots in Africa, where various traditional games involved hitting a ball with a stick or bat. However, the organized sport as we know it began to take shape in the United States during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Sadly, exclusion from the Major League Baseball (MLB) was a common reality for Black players until the late 1800s.

The Exclusion of Black Players from MLB

It is essential to understand that systemic racism played a significant role in preventing Black players from participating in MLDuring the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a widespread belief that baseball should be a “white man’s game.” As a result, the MLB clubs enforced an unwritten agreement called the color line, which prohibited teams from signing Black players. This policy effectively excluded a large and talented pool of athletes from the professional baseball ranks.

The Negro Leagues: A Beacon of Hope

Despite the MLB’s color line policy, the passion and talent for baseball within the African American community did not fade away. Instead, it gave birth to a vibrant and successful alternative league system – the Negro Leagues. These leagues not only provided opportunities for Black players to showcase their skills but also contributed significantly to the development of Black baseball culture. The Negro Leagues produced several exceptional talent such as Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Jackie Robinson, who would go on to make history in MLB.

Impact of the Negro Leagues on MLB

The integration of MLB, which began in earnest with Jackie Robinson’s debut in 1947, was the direct result of the groundwork laid by the Negro Leagues. The talent and skill level of Black players, proven through their success in the Negro Leagues, forced MLB to reconsider its outdated policies. This unexpected change in the landscape of MLB for Black fans was a triumphant moment in sports history, as it paved the way for equal opportunities for all athletes.

Opinion: For Black baseball fans, a wholly unexpected new day is here

The Impact of Social Justice Movements on MLB and Baseball Culture

In recent years, Major League Baseball (MLB) and baseball culture have been confronted with the need for change as a result of various social justice movements. One pivotal event that brought this issue to the forefront was the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that took place across the United States and around the world.

George Floyd’s Death and the Black Lives Matter Movement

The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, while in police custody, sparked a wave of outrage and activism. The visuals of Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers, as well as the systemic issues that it represented, led to widespread protests and calls for justice. The BLM movement, which had been active for several years prior, gained significant momentum and support during this time.

MLB’s Response to Social Justice Movements

In response to these events, MLB and its teams took various steps to address the issue of social justice and promote inclusion. Some teams wore BLM logos on their jerseys during games, while others made public statements supporting the movement. The league also postponed several games in solidarity with players and fans.

Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion

These actions marked a greater emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and representation within MLThis trend was already underway, with the number of Black players in the league increasing steadily over the past few decades. However, it became more pronounced following the events of 2020.

Increasing Number of Black Players

According to the MLB’s 2021 Racial and Gender Report Card, there were 743 Black players in the league out of a total of 1,265 rostered players, representing approximately 58.9% of the sport’s diversity. This is a significant improvement from just a few decades ago when the number of Black players was much lower.

Teams’ Engagement with Black Fanbase and Promotion of Social Justice Initiatives

Furthermore, teams have made efforts to engage with their Black fanbase and promote social justice initiatives. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers held a “Day of Action” in response to Floyd’s death, where players and staff participated in various community service projects aimed at addressing social justice issues. The New York Yankees also held a “Day of Action” and have partnered with organizations to promote diversity and inclusion both on and off the field.

In conclusion, the events surrounding George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement have had a profound impact on MLB and baseball culture. The league and its teams have responded by increasing their focus on diversity, inclusion, and representation. The number of Black players in the league has continued to grow, and teams have made efforts to engage with their Black fanbase and promote social justice initiatives. These changes are not only important for the baseball community but also for society as a whole, as they contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable world.


MLB.com. (2021). MLB’s Racial and Gender Report Card. Retrieved from https://www.mlb.com/mlb/about/inclusiveness/report-card

Sports Illustrated. (2021). MLB’s social justice initiatives: From Black Lives Matter to ‘Day of Action’. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/mlb/2021/07/06/mlb-social-justice-initiatives-day-of-action-black-lives-matter

Opinion: For Black baseball fans, a wholly unexpected new day is here

I The Significance of Increased Representation for Black Baseball Fans

The significance of increased representation in sports, including baseball, cannot be overstated. For fans, seeing oneself reflected in the games they love plays a crucial role in their connection to the sport and their sense of belonging within the community.

Impact of Role Models

For Black baseball fans, this representation takes on even greater importance. The presence of role models who look like them on the field can inspire young fans to dream about their own futures in baseball, shattering the barriers that have historically kept Black players from reaching the highest levels of the game.

Sense of Belonging and Community

Representation also fosters a sense of community among fans, allowing them to share experiences that are uniquely theirs.

Shared Experiences

Consider the experience of watching a game with other Black fans, where discussions about the intricacies of baseball strategy intermingle with stories about the impact of Jackie Robinson or Hank Aaron. These conversations create a powerful bond, connecting fans to their past and strengthening their sense of community in the present.

Authentic Baseball Experience for Black Fans

The current state of Major League Baseball (MLB) allows for a more authentic baseball experience for Black fans.

Presence of Black Players

The increasing number of Black players in the league has led to a more representative roster, enabling fans to see themselves in the game on a daily basis. These athletes serve not only as talented players but also as role models for younger generations.

Celebration of Black History and Heritage

MLB’s efforts to celebrate Black history and heritage within baseball culture have also contributed to a more inclusive environment. From the annual Jackie Robinson Day to the unveiling of monuments honoring trailblazers like Robinson, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron, the league continues to acknowledge its rich history and the contributions of Black players throughout its storied past. This recognition creates a space where Black fans can feel proud of their heritage and see themselves as an integral part of the baseball community.

Opinion: For Black baseball fans, a wholly unexpected new day is here

Challenges and Future Considerations

Despite the progress made in MLB and baseball culture regarding representation, inclusion, and equality, there are still significant challenges that need to be addressed.

Acknowledgment of the Challenges

It is crucial to recognize that systemic racism and bias continue to exist within MLB and baseball culture. Need for Continued Dialogue and Action: The ongoing dialogue about race in sports is essential to create lasting change. Teams, leagues, players, and fans must commit to understanding the systemic issues that perpetuate inequality and work together to find solutions. Importance of Accountability: Holding teams, leagues, and players accountable for their actions is a necessary step towards creating a more inclusive and equitable baseball community.

Discussion of Potential Solutions

To move forward and address these challenges, we must consider various potential solutions. Encouraging Black Youth Participation: One solution is to encourage more Black youth participation in baseball. This can be achieved by providing resources and support for youth programs, creating mentorship opportunities, and ensuring equal access to facilities and equipment.

a. Mentoring Programs:

Mentoring programs that connect Black youth with current MLB players, coaches, and other industry professionals can help inspire the next generation of baseball talent.

b. Access to Resources:

Providing access to resources, such as equipment and training facilities, is essential to ensuring that all youth have an equal opportunity to excel in baseball.

Providing Resources and Support for Black Players and Teams:

Another solution is to provide resources and support for Black players and teams. This can include financial assistance, mental health resources, and educational opportunities.

a. Financial Assistance:

Providing financial assistance to Black players and teams can help alleviate some of the financial burdens that often prevent athletes from reaching their full potential.

b. Mental Health Resources:

The mental health of Black players and teams must be a priority, especially given the unique challenges they face as marginalized individuals in a predominantly White sport. Providing access to mental health resources can help players cope with stressors, build resilience, and maintain their overall well-being.

Fostering an Environment of Openness, Inclusivity, and Respect:

Finally, fostering an environment of openness, inclusivity, and respect is essential to creating a more welcoming baseball community. This includes addressing racist or biased behavior, promoting diversity within MLB leadership positions, and ensuring that all players feel valued and respected.

Opinion: For Black baseball fans, a wholly unexpected new day is here


As we reach the end of this discourse on the state of MLB for Black baseball fans, it is essential to acknowledge the current landscape and its profound significance. Black fans, despite their unwavering loyalty and contributions to the sport, continue to face systemic barriers that limit their access and representation. From the scarcity of Black players in the league to the lack of cultural inclusivity within team ownership and management, there is much work to be done.

Recap of the Current State

The current state of MLB for Black fans is one of frustration and longing for a more inclusive and equitable community. With few Black players in prominent roles and a lack of representation at the executive level, many fans feel disconnected from the game they love. The absence of meaningful dialogue and action around these issues only exacerbates the sense of alienation.

A Call to Action

It is time for MLB, teams, players, and fans to take up the mantle of change. The league must commit to addressing these issues head-on by implementing initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion at all levels. Teams should prioritize the recruitment and development of Black talent, both on and off the field. Players can use their platforms to advocate for change and inspire younger generations. And fans must continue to demand accountability from those in power.

An Optimistic View of the Future

The future of baseball for Black fans is ripe with potential. With continued efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable environment, the sport can serve as a powerful catalyst for positive change within society as a whole. Imagine a league where Black fans feel truly valued, where their voices are heard and their presence is celebrated. This vision may seem far-fetched to some, but it is within our grasp if we all commit to working together towards a more just and equitable future for baseball and beyond.