Only 8.4 percent of major leaguers were black last season

Updated: March 29, 2007, 6:27 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Only 8.4 percent of major league players last season were black, the lowest level in at least two decades.

As recently as 1995, 19 percent of big leaguers were black, according to Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. Nine percent were black in both 2004 and 2005, and the current figure is the lowest since at least the mid-1980s, he said.

Just 3 percent of pitchers were blacks in 2006, Lapchick said Thursday in his annual study, the same as the previous year.

Lapchick gave baseball a B+ for racial diversity, the same as last year, and a C+ for gender, up from a C. Its overall grade improved from C+ to B.

"Jackie Robinson's dream was to increase the percentage of African-American players as well as coaches and front-office personnel," Lapchick said. "While MLB has achieved these new distinctions regarding who runs the game, the percentage of African-Americans playing the game reached a new low."

Baseball is holding its first "Civil Rights Game" exhibition in Memphis, Tenn., this weekend and is planning a celebration on April 15 to mark the 60th anniversary of Robinson breaking the sport's color barrier.

Cleveland pitcher C.C. Sabathia said this month that baseball must do more to promote the game in inner cities.

"It's not just a problem -- it's a crisis," he said.

Lapchick gave baseball a B+ for race and a C for gender for its senior administration hiring. When it came to team vice presidents, he gave a B for race and an F for gender. He gave a D for general managers -- Kenny Williams of the Chicago White Sox is the only black GM and Omar Minaya of the New York Mets is the only Latino GM. For the central offices, he gave an A+ for race and an A for gender.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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