Strikeout: New Study Shows Black Representation in MLB Continues to Plunge

The number of Black Major League Baseball (MLB) players is at an all-time low, according to a recent study.

Per The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida (TIDES), Black players accounted for 6.2% of the total number of MLB players on rosters for opening day of the 2023 season. TIDES’ racial and gender report card for MLB revealed that representation for Black players in the league dropped from last year’s record low (7.2%) by one percent. The report card gave a C-plus overall, according to the U.S. News & World Report. A B was given for racial hiring, while a grade of C was given for gender hiring.

The MLB is hopeful that Black youth might become more interested in the sport. TIDES director Richard Lapchick said, per the U.S. News & World Report, “I think that if it’s possible that the player number is going to be reversed, then it’s going to happen because of the efforts [MLB is] putting into it.” The league’s efforts to diversify the sport include the MLB Youth Academy, the DREAM Series, and a 10-year pledge of $150 million with the Players Alliance.

Per MLB’s website, 34% of youth participating in its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program are Black or African American. This number is the highest, with Hispanic or Latino youth coming in second (31%).

Diversity remains a major focus for the league on and off the field, and indeed TIDES gave the league an A for diversity initiatives. Billy Bean, senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the MLB, said, “We are encouraged by the progress being made at various levels of the pipeline. Diversity remains a top priority for our entire industry and we are committed to this as a long-term effort.” Per the league’s website, women account for 20% of diversity in MLB’s networks, clubs, central office, and advanced media. Within the MLB central office, 10% are Black or African American.

BLACK ENTERPRISE reported in 2022 that there were no American-born Black players in the MLB World Series for the first time in more than 70 years.