After fan voting, managerial additions, the mysterious “final vote,” injury declarations and replacement additions, a grand total of six black players will participate in 2013 MLB All-Star Game festivities. Three are National League All-Stars, and three are from the American League.
Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati; Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies; and Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates are your NL representatives.
Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles; Prince Fielder, 1B, Detroit Tigers; and Torii Hunter, OF, Tigers are your AL representatives.
To think, this is actually a good year for black players in the All-Star Game.
This is a primary reason why young black athletes don’t give baseball serious consideration when selecting a sport of choice. This is also why Major League Baseball is concerned with the dwindling number of African-American fans in baseball stadiums around America.
I’m 52 years old. I estimate 80 percent of black MLB fans fall between the ages of 42 and 62. Fans our age grew up in generations that saw MLB create many of its greatest black players – and many of those players were on display in the All-Star Games of the 1970s.
I wouldn’t miss an All-Star Game in my youth.
I turned 10 in September 1970 and, for more than decade, black players often made up more than 40 percent of the position players invited to the All-Star Game, especially in the NL.
Let’s start with 1971, and examine the black players on All-Star rosters of the 70s.
1971 NL – Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell, Dock Ellis, Ferguson Jenkins, Don Wilson, Nate Colbert, Booby Bonds, Lou Brock and Lee May; AL – Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Vida Blue, Don Buford, Reggie Jackson and Amos Otis.
1972 AL – Dick Allen, Carew, Jackson, Carlos May, Otis and Reggie Smith; NL – Mays, Joe Morgan, Aaron, Stargell, Bob Gibson, Jenkins, Colbert, Brock, Mays, Al Oliver and Billy Williams.
1973 NL – Aaron, Morgan, Williams, Colbert, Bonds, Willie Davis, Mays, Stargell, Bob Watson; AL – Allen, Carew, Jackson, Otis, John Mayberry, Dave Nelson, Paul Blair, Willie Horton, Pat Kelly and Dave May.
1974 AL – Allen, Carew, Jackson, Mayberry, George Hendrick and Robinson; NL – Morgan, Aaron, Jimmy Wynn, Lynn McGlothen, Dave Cash, Brock, Ralph Garr and Reggie Smith.
1975 NL – Morgan, Brock, Wynn, Watson, Cash, Bill Madlock, Oliver and Reggie Smith; AL – Carew, Jackson, Bobby Bonds, Blue, George Scott, Hank Aaron, Hendrick, Hal McRae and Claudell Washington.
1976 AL – Ron LeFlore, Carew, Chris Chambliss, Willie Randolph, McRae, Otis and Mickey Rivers; Morgan, George Foster, Cash, Ken Griffey Sr., Bake McBride and Oliver.
1977 NL – Morgan, Foster, Dave Parker, Garry Templeton, Griffey Sr., Reggie Smith, Ellis Valentine and Dave Winfield; AL – Carew, Randolph, Jackson, Blue, Scott, Larry Hisle, Rupert Jones, Jim Rice and Ken Singleton.
1978 AL – Carew, Jackson, Rice, Eddie Murray, Frank White and Chet Lemon; NL – Morgan, Foster, Vida Blue, Stargell, Davey Lopes, Reggie Smith and Winfield.
1979 NL – Lopes, Foster, Parker, Winfield, Morgan, Templeton, Brock and Gary Matthews; AL – White, Carew, Cecil Cooper, Jackson Lemon and Singleton.
Even as black player numbers went down as the 70s progressed, no All-Star team of either league had less than six African-Americans on the roster for any game. Remember, there are six in total in 2013.
Along with familiar names such as Gibson and Brock, the Cardinals also sent pitcher Lynn McGlothen and outfielders Bake McBride and Reggie Smith to the All-Star Game during the 1970s.
I doubt that there will ever be the level of black participation in the All-Star Game that I grew up with – but MLB should be embarrassed to have just six black players. When you have teams, including the Cardinals, which have no black players on the 25-man roster, I guess I should be happy that there are any black players in the game.