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