When the Pittsburgh Pirates faced the Boston Red Sox in a make-up game at Fenway Park last Thursday (April 13), they had three Black players in the lineup: Andrew McCutchen (RF), Josh Harrison (2B) and Josh Bell (1B).
You’ll hurt your eyes trying to find another team with as many Black players starting a MLB game.
Of the eight starting field positions for the Pirates, three are occupied by African American players. According to MLB.com’s depth charts of all 30 teams from April 13, no other team in the National League had more than two Black starters, and only one team in the American League, the Oakland Athletics, had three. There were four teams that had no Black players as starters (Astros, Padres, Nationals, Rockies).
A report by USA Today revealed that African Americans made up just 8 percent of MLB opening day rosters in 2016.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have more Blackeveryday players than any other team in the National League, but some say more must be done to keep Black youth interested in the game
But with McCutchen as the face of the organization over the past seven seasons, and the emergence of Harrison and Bell, does this translate into more Pittsburgh Black youth becoming interested in baseball?
There are kids like Lincoln resident Caleb Dalton, 9, a member of the Paulson Jr. Pirates, who told the New Pittsburgh Courier he likes playing baseball, especially hitting. “I like how I play, and I like how I succeed in baseball,” Dalton said. “(Hitting) feels wonderful.”
Caleb has a brother, Joshua, 7, also on the team. Their mother, Monique Dalton, said her sons playing baseball “teaches them discipline, following direction, team-playing, resilience and not giving up.”