The ‘color’ of the game is just fine

Published 6:16 pm Sunday, April 26, 2015

In a segment of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” comedian Chris Rock describes himself as “an endangered species.”

How?  He says by being a BLACK baseball fan.

Well, I am too; and I don’t feel so threatened.

Rock pointed out that, among other things: black people made up about 20 percent of major league players in the ‘80’s, now a study by Major League Baseball drops that number to 8.5 percent as of the 2013 season.

Colleges have become the new feeding ground for the big leagues in the 21st century. When you look at historically black colleges and universities, most of their rosters are now filled with white players; and far too many of these HBCU’s have dropped the sport altogether. That supports Rock’s argument.

Among other factors he cited for the decline included such topics as cost, tradition, lack of youth appeal, heck, even TV ratings.

As much as I admire Rock for his courage on a lot of issues, I can’t just climb on this bandwagon because he needs to look closer. I’ll toss out just a few things he missed.

He complained that neither the National League Championship Series participant San Francisco Giants nor the St. Louis Cardinals featured a single black player on their roster. Well, why didn’t he look over at the American League Championship Series between Baltimore and Kansas City that featured players like Adam Jones, Delmon Young, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson.

Rock mourns dwindling Little League participation (down 20 percent since 1995).  Well what about “The RBI Initiative”? It’s called Reviving Baseball in the Inner City and it was a HUGE part in last year’s Little League World Series with the Jackie Robinson West team from Chicago in the championship game. (Unfortunately, it was stripped of its title in February – Hey, Chris, here’s a free one for you: it was because they used players from the OUTER city – Funny!).

When Rock complains about the lack of young black role models in baseball, how can you not mention Mo’ne Davis? The 13-year-old Philadelphia phenom stood the Little League World Series on its 75-year-old ear by being the first girl to throw a shutout; and then followed it up with a cover on Sports Illustrated!

Want another?  Even though he’s retired this year, he was one of the classiest guys in the game, right up there with Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, and the late Ernie Banks.  His name is Derek Jeter.

Rock’s right, baseball isn’t as “Black-ish” as it once was, but compared to what it once was, I like the color of the game right now just fine.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer with Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7211.