Bases Empty: Factors that Reduce Baseball Participation among Black Players in the United States


The number of African American players in professional and collegiate baseball is exceptionally low. In 2022, on average, only seven percent of the players on an opening day Major League roster were African American. During the same season, the World Series marked the first time since 1950 there were no African Americans on either team’s roster. While at the collegiate level, only six percent of Division I players were African American. Numerous explanations have been offered for the dearth of African American players at elite levels of play including economic factors and networking. It is posited that activities necessary for college recruiting (travel ball, private training, and college showcases) may present financial obstacles that make it difficult for African American players to compete for college roster spots. Additionally, the low likelihood of receiving college baseball scholarships may pull African American kids away from baseball to football and basketball. Those that do stick with baseball may lack access to those that advocate on their behalf during the recruiting process. This research examines the validity of these explanations by interviewing coaches, trainers, scouts, and former players who are either themselves African American or work with predominately African American youth players. Preliminary results suggest that there is an additive effect of both economic and networking factors. Since colleges serve as a major source of Major League talent and there is a lack of Black collegiate players, there is a smaller pool of players eligible to play professionally.


Lisa Holland Davis
Associate Professor, Social Sciences, Clayton State University, Georgia, United States

Jason Davis
Department Chair, Interdisciplinary Studies, Clayton State University, Georgia, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Baseball, African American, Youth Sports, College, Major League Baseball

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