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African-American players are disappearing from baseball

African-American players are disappearing from baseball

Wednesday marked the 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier to become baseball's first African-American player. And in the decades that followed, the game became far less white as more and more African-American players followed Robinson's path.

Yet now, that trend has begun to reverse, as this chart from Pew shows:

In 1981, the share of black players peaked at 18.7 percent. That number fell all the way to 8.3 percent this year. Meanwhile, baseball's international outreach has resulted in a sharp uptick in the number of foreign-born players from Latin America and Asia in that same span.

So what's driving that trend of dwindling black ballplayers? As our Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote recently, it's largely the result of globalization and capitalism re-segregating baseball by turning it into "an exurban game" that caters domestically to wealthy whites.