For 61 years, ever since Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier and won the National League's Rookie of the Year Award in the same season, African-American players have starred in the majors. For instance, the past two National League Most Valuable Players, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, will try to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series this month. In the past decade, though, dozens of articles have lamented the declining proportion of black players, from 27% of all major leaguers in the mid-1970s to 8.2% last season, even as the percentage of Americans who are of African descent has inched up in recent decades. For all its currency, that decline appears to be way off. In recent years, two baseball researchers, working independently, have found that blacks probably never made up more than 20% of major leaguers.