Another season of baseball means that we have another Jackie Robinson Day, celebrated by all 30 teams across the league: On April 15, everyone wears the No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, the first African-American MLB player.
Of course, it is a wonderful reason for celebration, especially as this is the 75th anniversary of his MLB debut, but there is the issue of how Black MLB is currently. As of Opening Day 2022, African-American players represent 7% of the league. This is drastically different from the 1970s and 1980s, where African-American players made up as much as 18.5% of the league, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.
The Players Alliance is trying to help solve that issue.
The organization is made up of more than 100 current and former MLB players, and their mission is to increase the number of African-Americans in baseball as a whole by fighting baseball’s inherent barriers. They are doing this by funding events for young players, providing supplies, and mentoring young people that want to be involved in baseball —whether that is as an athlete, a coach, in the front office or any other way.
The White Sox have two African-American players who are both a part of the Players Alliance. One of them is two-time All-Star Josh Harrison, and the other is Tim Anderson, one of the faces of the new era of the MLB.
This is a continuation of the White Sox’s rich history of Black and African-American stars. The team signed Minnie Miñoso, the first Afro-Latino player in MLB history, and its first Black star. Frank Thomas is one of the best first basemen ever, and perhaps the greatest player to ever don a White Sox uniform.
DeWayne Wise made the catch that preserved Mark Buehrle’s perfect game. Jermaine Dye was the 2005 World Series MVP, and was fifth in AL MVP voting in 2006, along with his second All-Star game appearance and a Silver Slugger. Last season, the team got major contributions from Billy Hamilton and Brian Goodwin. The team also features Afro-Latino stars such as Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert — with others waiting in the system for a call-up, like Yoelqui Céspedes and Oscar Colás.
And to the White Sox’s credit, the club established its own Amateur City Elite (ACE) program in 2007, with a focus in part in reversing the decline in baseball participation among African-Americans. In its 15 years, ACE has helped point more than 230 participants to college scholarships and seen 27 of its players drafted by Major League Baseball.
Blackness is a part of the history of baseball and should be celebrated and promoted everyday — not just on April 15.