It was a topic of discussion in some corners of the Twitterverse for Dodger fans, but the Dodgers did not employ any African-American players during the 2019 season. This marks the first time that the Dodgers franchise did not employ a black player since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier — a truly interesting observational statistic.
In a recent column by Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers’ history with diversification and their current state is examined:
Of the 882 major leaguers on opening day rosters in 2019, 68 were African American, amounting to 7.7%. Eleven teams had no more than one African American. https://t.co/1qpqwNqc3E
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) November 29, 2019
According to the column, of 882 players on Opening Day rosters in 2019, only 68, or 7.7 percent, were of African-American descent. Eleven teams across Major League Baseball did not employ multiple African-American players — demonstrating that this is not a Dodgers issue. Simply put, African-American athletes are turning to basketball and football instead of baseball in today’s era of sports.
In a widespread story, current Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray chose to play NFL football than to play for the Oakland Athletics with a huge signing bonus. Murray is just one case.
The Dodgers are not systematically avoiding signing African-American athletes and Castillo confirms that within his piece. It just demonstrates something bigger.
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Former Dodger Ken Landreaux weighed in on the lack of black players for the Dodgers:
“I noticed it even before. Even though they went down to zero blacks on the team, I remember when it was cut down to six, then five, then four, then three, then two. I just saw it keep going down, down, and down.”
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman also discussed it:
“I think this has been a longstanding challenge in baseball for as long as I’ve been a part of it. I know that there are a lot of people thinking about it and initiatives such as the RBI program are put in place to try to change it. Hopefully, we are making inroads, but, like most things, there’s probably more that we all can and should do.”
For a franchise with such rich history — breaking the color barrier with Jackie Robinson and sprouting the careers of Roy Campanella, Maury Wills, and Don Newcomb — it is something interesting to notice.