Much has been made of the fact that for the first time since 1950, there are no U.S.-born Black players actively competing in the World Series.
That of course, buries the lede, that there are multiple Black players that competed throughout the season for both the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies.
Not to mention that the Astros manager is Black, and that there are numerous Afro-Latin players who will be playing in the series, including Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez.
But that wasn’t enough for MLB Player’s Association head Tony Clark, who repeatedly expressed his disappointment with the lack of Black players.
According to ESPN, Clark said he’s concerned that young Black athletes might choose not to play baseball while watching the World Series:
“It is truly unfortunate that any young Black player may be watching these games tonight is not going to see someone that looks like them and as a result may make a decision against continuing to play our great game and move on to something else,” Clark said before Friday night’s opener between Houston and Philadelphia. “That is disappointing and disheartening.”
He also said that he believes MLB’s “years of inattention” has created this outcome, with the lack of Black executives and coaches being another indicator.
“To the extent that that we’ve got only a couple Black coaches, to the extent that we only have a few Black front office staff,” Clark continued, “it’s a conversation that I think you should have with those in those positions as to why that continues to be the case when they 100% have the ability to control who they hire and who they don’t.”
Only American-Born Black Players Count?
While there’s a discussion that could be had about increasing the amount of Black athletes and executives in baseball, it’s disingenuous to ignore that Afro-Latin players are participating.
Clark’s concern is that young children watching may be put off by the lack of Black players, except that isn’t exactly accurate.
Why are stars such as Alvarez irrelevant to this discussion?
The obvious answer is that there’s capital and political points to be gained by once again saying there’s a problem that MLB needs to solve.
It’s certainly not ideal that there aren’t more American-born Black players in the sport’s signature event, but it’s a bit intellectually dishonest to ignore that it’s at least partially due to injuries and declining to include international athletes.