LOS ANGELES — Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts wore a T-shirt over his uniform during batting practice before Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. Across the front it said, “We Need more Black People at the Stadium.”
Betts said SportsNet LA reporter Kirsten Watson had shown him the shirt online and he bought one.
“I agreed with it so I decided to wear it,” Betts said.
“I figure this is the right stage to get the message out.”
A recent study found that 38% of major-league players are persons of color. But African-American participation in baseball has been in decline for years with the number of black players in MLB also declining.
Just 7.2% of players on Opening Day rosters were Black, according to a study from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released in May. That number is a 0.4% dropoff from 2021 and the lowest number since TIDES began assessing the league in 1991. Players represented about 17-18% of MLB rosters annually for most of the 1970s and 1980s.
“You just don’t see a whole lot of blacks playing the game of baseball – which is fine,” Betts said. “I mean, they don’t see themselves. I’m just trying to be that person they see and can become.”
Betts acknowledged seeing progress in the fact that four of the first five picks in this week’s MLB draft were African-Americans.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “We’re getting some culture in the game. The whole world is kind of going in that direction. So baseball needs to as well.”