Was just alerted to this interesting article titled BASEBALL'S BLACKOUT. It is set to be a multi-part article but the first piece was intriguing for several reasons.
The author's thesis is that "baseball as an industry and as a culture has regressed with a radical blackout harkening to the days of separate but equal". As evidence he cites the facts:
The primary cause that lies behind these facts in the author's opinion is that teams now choose to draft primarily college players and that high school players drafted come from elite travel teams that are cost prohibitive for many African Americans. Further, he suggests that college coaches shy away from recruiting black players "because they fear developing their skills and accepting the social, economic and family responsibilities that often accompany an inner-city athlete."
While college players had been drafted in greater numbers very recently (1998-2004), high school players (as shown in the following graph) were drafted in much greater numbers in the preceding 15 years and so I doubt that the mix of college and high school draftees has much to do with it although certainly the economics of travel teams may play a role.
The unfortunate aspect of the article is that instead of digging deeper into the economic disparity that may help to effectively bar entry or the breakdown of the African American family not to mention the displacement of baseball in the community with basketball and the rise of Latin and Asian players in the last 20 years, the author instead makes some very thinly veiled suggestions that racism is the underlying or root cause. I'm not buying it for the simple reason that our society is surely more open today than it was 40 years ago and yet blacks had seemingly less trouble entering and winning rosters spots. I'm afraid the real causes are probably much more complex than simply racism and have more to do with the characteristics of the African American community and less to do with outside discrimination.