The Civil Rights Game

“Baseball has played a unique role in advancing the civil rights struggle in that Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color line in 1947 challenged and changed the American climate.” ~ Jesse Jackson

The 5th annual Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game will be played today in Atlanta.  It honors “the social contributions made on and off the field by key figures in America’s history, and [shows] respect for those who paved the way for current African-American stars.”   It highlights the accomplishments of MLB and civil rights leaders, such as Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. 

Baseball has made significant strides in diversity since the Boston Red Sox were the last team to desegregate in 1959, yet there is still room for improvement.  According to the Institute for Ethics and Diversity in Sport, persons of color make up 38 percent of the players and 33 percent of the front office staff in Major League Baseball.  However, between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of African American players decreased from 10 to 8.5 percent and the percentage of Latino players decreased from 28.4 to 27 percent.  The percentage of Asian players increased slightly from 1.9 to 2.1 percent.  How does that compare to the rest of the country?  I’ve put together a handy-dandy table culled from U.S. Census Bureau data and the most recent report from the Institute for Ethics and Diversity in Sport:

Race/Ethnicity USA MLB



Hispanic or Latino









American Indian and Alaska Native



Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander



The Institute has tons more data on their website.  Of course, in sociology we can analyze the data in many ways.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide where Major League Baseball stands in the civil rights game.


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