70 Years After Jackie

Jackie_Robinson,_Brooklyn_Dodgers,_1954“The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.” ~ Jackie Robinson

It’s been 70 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Many players followed, changing the face of the game, sports, and society, forever. Significant progress was accomplished in the United States in the decades that followed Jackie’s MLB debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. But there is still work to do.

Many people have examined the social significance of Jackie Robinson integrating baseball. We have also come to know about Robinson’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Nonetheless, there remains unfinished business that must be addressed.

So, yes, today is Jackie Robinson Day throughout MLB and MiLB ballparks. While we celebrate Jackie Robinson’s enormous contributions to society, let’s also think of ways to honor his memory by continuing his work.

~ baseballrebecca

Stat-urday, April 7, 2017

Baseball is crazy with statistics, but the stats that are most interesting to me, are those related to people: demographics, attendance, community impact, etc. Fortunately, there are baseball stats on that, too! For the 2017 season, I will periodically highlight important social stats about baseball – on “Stat”-urdays!

Here’s an interesting take on the decline of Black players that was posted in 2014 by Business Insider. Do you agree with their conclusions?

Data through 2016 was recently posted by SABR

Baseball’s Diversity and Heritage Days

viva250x250As I’ve noted before, baseball teams – especially Minor League Baseball – develop a variety of events to draw people to games. One category of such events is, as I’ve named it, is “Diversity/Heritage Days.” These days celebrate the diversity of the United States and the communities in which the teams operate.

I’m not sure what some of these events actually celebrate – such as “Redstoberfest” and “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day.” And, of course, teams need to be thoughtful and respectful in their approaches to these events. The Orem Owlz recently learned that lesson when their “Caucasian Night” promotion was widely criticized. In their apology, the team noted: “Our goal in this promotion, like any of our promotions, is to have fun and make fun of everyday normalcies. Our night was to include wonder bread on burgers with mayonnaise, clips from shows like Friends and Seinfeld and trying to solve the vertical leaping challenge. We understand, in light of recent tragic events, that our intentions have been misconstrued. For that, we sincerely apologize.”

Below I’ve collected the Diversity/Heritage Days for all MLB teams, plus the minor leagues that include teams for my Orioles and Nationals: the International League, Eastern League, Carolina League, and New York-Penn League. Also included are all of the independent leagues. The remaining dates are shown first, broken down by group. However, that doesn’t give you the full story, as we’ve already missed several dates, including Korean Heritage Night and Japanese Heritage Night at the San Francisco Giants.

Have fun celebrating your heritage and that of others!

~ baseballrebecca


Hispanic/Cinco de Mayo/Latino/Caribbean

Date Team Event
7/25 Royals Viva Los Reales
8/2 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
8/5 Hudson Valley Latin Heritage Night
8/8 Tigers 10th Annual Fiesta Tigres
8/11 White Sox Orgullo Sox Night
8/16 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
8/20 West Virginia Latin Heritage Night
8/21 Reds Fiesta Rojos
8/22 Marlins Dominican Heritage Night
8/26 New Britain Latino Heritage Day
8/28 Phillies Latino Family Celebration
8/30 Kansas City T-Bones Hispanic Heritage Day
8/30 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
9/5 Brooklyn Latin Music Night
9/10 Braves Hispanic Heritage Night
9/12 Giants Fiesta Gigantes
9/12 Mariners Salute to Latin American Beisbol Night
9/12 Rangers Hispanic Heritage Day
9/17 Bridgeport Bluefish Hispanic Heritage Night
9/17 Nationals Hispanic Heritage Day
9/20 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
9/26 Marlins Hispanic Heritage Day
10/2 White Sox Hispanic Heritage Night
10/3 Dbacks Hispanic Heritage Day
10/3 Dodgers La Gran Fiesta – Viva Los Dodgers


Black/African American Heritage/Tributes to the Negro Leagues and Players

7/18 Brewers Negro League Tribute Game
7/20 St. Paul Saints Larry Doby Night
8/2 Durham Negro League Night
10/2 Giants African American Heritage Day


Asian Heritage

8/21 A’s Filipino Heritiage Night
9/15 Giants Filipino Heritage Night
9/18 Giants Polynesian Heritage Night

Irish Heritage/St. Patrick’s Day

7/16 Brooklyn Irish Heritage Night
7/17 Binghamton Irish Night
7/20 Long Island Ducks Irish Night
7/22 Hudson Valley Irish – Organically Green Irish Night
7/23 Akron Irish Heritage Night
7/23 Trenton Irish Heritage Night
8/1 Williamsport Irish Heritage Night
8/8 Lakewood Irish Heritage Night
8/11 Giants Irish Heritage
8/25 Tri-City Irish Night
8/28 State Island Irish Heritage
8/28 West Virginia Irish Heritage
8/28 Staten Island Irish Heritage Night
9/2 Royals Irish Heritage
9/12 White Sox Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day
9/17 Braves Halfway to St. Patricks Day
9/22 Tigers Irish Heritage


Italian Heritage

7/16 West Virginia Italian Heritage Night
7/17 Phillies Italian Heritage
7/31 Tri-City Italian Night
8/7 A’s Italian Heritage Night
8/16 Staten Island Italian Heritage
8/16 Staten Island Italian Heritage Night
8/20 Brooklyn Italian Heritage Night


German Heritage/Oktoberfest

8/1 Brooklyn Augtoberfest
8/14 Tri-City Oktoberfest
8/20 Akron German Heritage
8/27 Hudson Valley Augtoberfest
9/3 St. Paul Saints Oktoberfest
9/3 West Virginia Oktoberfest
9/4 A’s Oktoberfest
9/5 Reds Redstoberfest
9/30 Giants Oktoberfest
10/3 Mariners Oktoberfest
10/3 Rays Oktoberfest Freezer Mug


Polish Heritage

Toledo Polish Heritage Night
8/13 West Virginia Polish Heritage Night


Portuguese Heritage

9/22 A’s Portuguese Heritage Night

 Jewish Heritage

7/15 Staten Island Jewish Heritage
7/15 Staten Island Jewish Heritage Night
7/27 Giants Jewish Heritage
8/2 Brooklyn Jewish Heritage Day
8/19 Wilmington Jewish Heritage
8/23 Lowell Jewish Heritage
8/23 Lowell Jewish Heritage Day
8/25 Trenton Jewish Heritage Night
9/6 Marlins Jewish Heritage Day


Other Heritage Celebrations

7/28 Tri-City Mardi Gras
8/2 Tri-City Around the World in Nine Innings
8/16 Winnipeg Goldeyes Canada Day
8/25 Giants Indian Heritage Night
8/9 Tides All Ages Run the Bases



Events that already occurred

4/11 Marlins Puerto Rican Heritage Day
4/11 Braves Asian Heritage Night
4/11 Phillies Asian Pacific Heritage
4/16 Giants Irish Heritage
4/16 Nationals Black Heritage Day
4/17 Giants Korean Heritage
4/19 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
4/23 Keys Italian Heritage Night
4/24 Tigers Negro Leagues Weekend
4/26 Lakewood Jewish Heritage Night
5/3 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
5/5 New Britain Latino Heritage
5/5 Bridgeport Bluefish Cinco de Mayo
5/5 Syracuse Cinco de Mayo
5/5 Baysox Fiesta de La Familia/Cinco de Mayo
5/5 Angels Cinco de Mayo
5/5 Giants Cinco de Mayo
5/5 White Sox Cinco de Mayo
5/8 Richmond Hispanic Heritage Night
5/8 Giants Filipino Heritage Night
5/10 Tides All Ages Run the Bases
5/12 Phillies Jewish Heritage Celebration
5/13 Wilmington Greek Heritage
5/15 Phillies Irish Heritage
5/17 Charlotte Tribute to the Negro Leagues
5/17 Royals Salute to the Negro Leagues
5/19 Giants Japanese Heritage
5/22 Marlins Cuban Heritage Night
5/22 Tigers 45th Annual Polish-American Night
5/24 So. Maryland Hispanic Heritage Day
5/24 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
5/28 Giants Chinese Heritage Night
6/1 Keys Celtic Night
6/4 Camden Riversharks Irish Heritage
6/5 White Sox Italian Heritage Night
6/5 Phillies African American Heritage
6/7 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
6/7 New Hampshire Irish Heritage Day
6/7 White Sox Greek Heritage Night
6/8 White Sox Polish Heritage Night
6/9 A’s Korean Heritage Night
6/13 Marlins Venezuelan Heritage Day
6/15 Giants Portuguese Heritage
6/17 Wilmington Irish Heritage
6/17 Phillies Greek Heritage
6/19 Braves Heritage Weekend
6/20 Dbacks Native American Recognition Day
6/20 Baysox Tribute to the Negro Leagues
6/20 Braves Negro League Tribute
6/21 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
6/21 Camden Riversharks Jewish Heritage
6/23 Giants Italian Heritage
6/24 Marlins Caribbean Heritage Night
6/24 Giants Native American Heritage
6/29 Tides All Ages Run the Bases
7/1 Winnipeg Goldeyes B’Nai Brith
7/2 Winnipeg Goldeyes Ukrainian Celebration
7/5 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers
7/6 Syracuse Negro League Appreciation Day
7/8 Wilmington Italian Heritage
7/10 Lakewood Italian Heritage Night
7/12 Dodgers Viva Los Dodgers



11666129_10152879019102026_6668280623557902845_nTonight is #LikeAGirl Night at the Lowell Spinners! Inspired by the 2015 Always Super Bowl ad, #LikeAGirl Night seeks to “continue the campaign by Always, changing the meaning of the phrase ‘like a girl.’” (See the ad below.) Bravo, Spinners!

Several teams have held “Girls Night Out” and “Ladies Night” events. However, some of these events haven’t been met with approval. This year, after criticism from ThinkProgress.org, the Washington Nationals apparently changed their promotional materials for Ladies Night from stating “there’s no crying in baseball, but there’s plenty of wine” to “there’s no crying in baseball, even if you spill your wine.” An improvement, but not much better. A similar event held by the Atlanta Braves in May included feather boas and charm bracelets. (Apparently we have learned little from the Houston Astros’ 2013 Ladies Night debacle.)

guys_cap_500x383Of course, not to leave anyone out, at least two teams have scheduled events just for guys. In fact, if you live on the West Coast, tonight is Guys Night Out at the Seattle Mariners, where you’re invited to “Make Safeco Field your man cave.” Included in the ticket price are your first drink (wine, beer, soda, or water) and a Seattle Mariners bottle opener cap.

At least a bottle opener is more useful than a boa.

Below is a list of gender-related events at ballparks this year, as well as that Super Bowl ad.

~ baseballrebecca

Date Team Event
4/24 Mariners Guys Night Out


Atlanta Braves

Camden Riversharks

Ladies Night

Girls in Sports Day

5/6 Boston Girls of Summer
5/8 Mariners Girls Night Out
6/5 Royals Girls Night Out
6/13 Brewers Brewed for Her Event (Girls’ Night Out)
6/18 Nationals Ladies Day
7/10 Lowell #LikeAGirl Night
7/10 Mariners Guys Night Out
7/23 Aberdeen Ladies Night
7/30 State College Guys Night Out
8/1 White Sox Ladies Night
8/6 Lakewood Ladies Night/Women’s Expo
8/7 Mariners Girls Night Out

The Super Bowl ad:

And the extended version:

Chris Rock on Baseball

Baseball is the only game where there is a right
way to play: the white way.” ~ Chris Rock

One week after Jackie Robinson Day, HBO posted a video on YouTube of Chris Rock discussing the absence of Blacks in Major League Baseball. Rock is a baseball fan, and he has some legitimate concerns.  “Baseball is dying,” he says.

This is something MLB and the Baseball Sociologist have also focused on in recent years. Here are a few of the issues highlighted by Rock (the video is also posted below):

  • Baseball is old-fashioned.
  • The number of Black ball players has fallen from 20% a few decades ago to 8% today.
  • Announcers are old, white-haired white guys.
  • Baseball wants things to return to the way it used to be – from retro ballparks to organ music in the parks; this does not reflect the history and experiences of non-white fans.
  • In a speeded up world, baseball is slowing down.
  • There is an old-fashioned code: no celebrations allowed.

All of these things, Rock argues, do not reflect the interests and experiences of a large part of society. He sums it up: “Baseball is uncool. … you lose black America, you lose young America.”

So what are the solutions to this dilemma? I, for one, would like to start with his point about announcers. Let’s have Chris Rock and other celebrities (who are not old white-haired white guys) do the announcing some day. That would be pretty cool. And completely un-old-fashioned.

What are your suggestions?

~ baseballrebecca

Fans and Race

Graphic from the Pulic Religion Research InstituteA while back I mentioned that, yet again, MLB has put together a panel to look at the issue of race and that I planned to look at the available data more closely.  The issue is a complicated one, and I am still trying to compile the data.

However, one argument put forth to explain the decline of blacks in baseball is that blacks, in general, are not interested in the game.  In fact, a lot of folks have pointed out that there are few black fans in the stands, but has anyone every tried to count them?  Not really.

This past April, the Public Religion Research Institute reported findings from its January 2013 Religion & Politics Tracking Survey.  The survey revealed that blacks were more likely than whites and Hispanics to agree that football has replaced baseball as the national pastime.

Fans at Camden Yards
Blacks account for 30% of the population in Maryland, and 64% of the population in Baltimore – but what percentage are they at Camden Yards?

Ok.  But that doesn’t tell us who baseball’s fans are.  Back in 2006, Business Week reported that the Chicago White Sox were one of the few teams that attempted to collect data on their fans.  The White Sox estimated that only 4.5 percent of those attending games were black (in a city where blacks accounted for nearly 40 percent of the population).

While there is a lot of good information on diversity within Major League Baseball, there is relatively little information on the fans themselves.  Observations suggest that there is a lack of diversity among those attending games, which could be related to economics and social class, but few have studied the extent of the problem or the reasons.

The Gallup Organization has been asking people if they are baseball fans for decades.  But the information they’ve put online does not discuss race.  What their data do show, however, is that the percentage of Americans stating that baseball is their favorite sport has declined over time.  In 1960, 34 percent of those polled stated that baseball was their favorite sport.  In 2008:  10 percent.

Obviously, though interesting, these data are insufficient to answer the question about the race and ethnicity of baseball fans.  Like the issue of why there are fewer blacks playing the game, we need more concrete research on who attends games and why.

To be continued …

~ baseballrebecca

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.