Tony Clark Said No African-American Players In The World Series

Tony Clark Said No African-American Players

For the first time since 1950, the World Series did not feature any players born in the United States, and the head of the players’ union, Tony Clark, blamed this on years of neglect on the part of Major League Baseball. Clark said before Friday night’s opening game between Houston and Philadelphia, “It is truly unfortunate that any young Black player may be watching these games tonight and is not going to see someone that looks like them, and as a result may decide against continuing to play our great game and move on to something else.”

“That is upsetting and disheartening.” Clark, now 50 years old, played first base in the major leagues from 1995 to 2009 and was named to the American League All-Star team in 2001. “When I first started playing, players made sure, Black players on your team and other teams made sure that you were encouraged and supported, recognizing that even at that time, the numbers weren’t as high, so you were less likely in a lot of ways to see someone that looked like you or came from the same place as you,” he said.

As the number of key players dwindled, “less and less of those conversations were being had.” In 2013, Clark became the first player to serve as executive director of the players’ association. “How we got here did not happen overnight. There have been debates regarding this problem for a long period,” he remarked.

Since we didn’t arrive here in a single day, we shouldn’t expect to be able to leave in the same amount of time. But so long as there are people who are dedicated to offering opportunities, both on and off the field, there will be room for our game to improve tomorrow from today. Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros is one of only two black managers in the MLB, while Kenny Williams, exec v.p. of baseball operations for the Chicago White Sox, is the only black leader in baseball operations for a major league club.

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Clark stated that management must boost the number of Black executives in key positions. His exact words were, “To the extent that we’ve got only a couple Black coaches, to the extent that we’ve got only a few Black front office staff,” adding, “it’s a conversation that I think you should have with those in those positions as to why that continues to be the case when they 100% can control who they hire and who they don’t.”

According to Clark, over 30 players spoke with MLB executives in 2006 to voice their concerns and share their observations. “We’re still having the same conversations that we had in 2006,” he lamented. We are still having this same conversation 16 years later. Neither the Astros nor the Phillies had a player born in the United States on their 26-man rosters when they revealed them several hours before Friday night’s Game 1 at Minute Maid Park. There are people of color from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America on both teams’ rosters. Houston’s Black outfielder Michael Brantley has a season-ending shoulder injury and will not play again this year.

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