The Nine: How These Black Ballplayers' Stories Show a Changing Game and CountryBreaking News
tags: civil rights, baseball, sports, African American history
There is a heritage passed down among what is now a small but proud subset of baseball players — a history, living and breathing, that says as much about our revered “national pastime” as it does about the Black people who play it.
Within the long arc of that history — from segregation through Jackie Robinson’s debut, the 1970s heyday of the Black ballplayer and his disappearance from the game in recent decades — we have arrived at what feels like a nadir, with Black players, who once made up a fifth of all major league rosters, now making up less than 8 percent.
Last year, Major League Baseball announced the “elevation” of the Negro Leagues to major league status and the integration of those players’ stats into MLB’s. It was celebrated in some circles, but it was a cosmetic change that did nothing to improve the lives of the thousands of players locked out of MLB’s gates.
The history remains the history. The heritage needs no whitewashing or “elevation.” And it demands to be heard.
The Washington Post spent this baseball season examining the experiences of nine African American ballplayers, from a 90-year-old icon to an 18-year-old prospect. Each can claim a special place within that heritage. Collectively, they tell us something more — about this game and this country.
Note: Click through to this story on the Washington Post to read the stories of the nine players--Willie Mays, "Mudcat" Grant, Vida Blue, Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., CC Sabathia, Bruce Maxwell, Tim Anderson, and Ian Moller.
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