With MLB’s dubious Civil Rights Game about to start momentarily between the Cards and Indians, the former’s Preston Wilson raises an interesting point or two with the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Joe Strauss.
When it announced the first annual Civil Rights Game between the Cardinals and Cleveland Indians less than four months ago, Major League Baseball envisioned this weekend as a commemoration of the civil rights movement and baseball’s role in enacting social change.
Cardinals outfielder Preston Wilson, meanwhile, notices that he is part of another change: the game’s ever-diminishing minority of African-American players.
The veteran Wilson is the only African-American player on the Cardinals’ projected opening day roster. He has witnessed the steady ebb of black athletes from the game for two decades.
“I think the perception is if there’s a dark-skinned Latin guy out there, then he’s black,” Wilson said before Friday’s game against the Memphis Redbirds. “A lot of people don’t differentiate. But it’s not the case. There are a lot of issues involved.”
While Major League Baseball has made recent strides in elevating the number of minorities in its front offices and the central office, it has fought a losing battle against the well-known attrition of black athletes. Of players on major league rosters last season, only 8.7 percent were African-American.
Wilson sees few black role players in today’s game. Citing all-time pinch hit leader Lenny Harris (above) as an exception, Wilson said, “There are no mediocre guys who are black who are the 25th man on their roster. It just doesn’t happen. We don’t get those jobs. You can say it sounds whatever. But it’s true. Name one.”