History will be made at this year’s World Series—but not for what you would expect.
For the first time in over 70 years, there will not be any U.S.-born Black players playing for either team.
According to The Associated Press, the championship series being played between the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies will have zero Black representation on the field, in the dugout, or in the bullpens. This hasn’t taken place since the 1950s.
The first Black player, Jackie Robinson, broke Major League Baseball’s racial barrier in 1947 when he was brought in by the Brooklyn Dodgers and participated in the World Series that year. The only time before this current postseason that the baseball championship was played without a Black player was when the New York Yankees played against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1950.
“That is eye-opening,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. “It is somewhat startling that two cities that have high African American populations, there’s not a single Black player.”
“It lets us know there’s obviously a lot of work to be done to create opportunities for Black kids to pursue their dream at the highest level.”
The shift of Black athletes has spread to other sports like football and basketball where the numbers have risen over the years.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 World Series, the only Black player in uniform was the Dodgers star Mookie Betts. At this summer’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, Betts was seen wearing a T-shirt that stated “We need more Black people at the stadium.”
Richard Lapchick, the director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida, said, “It’s the exclamation point. It’s been a story that’s been ongoing since the late 1980s, the decline of Black baseball players.”