willie mays

Baseball legend, Willie Mays

*For years we’ve been hearing about how African American participation in professional baseball was declining.

Well, the reality of that trend is no more apparent than the current roster of the San Francisco Giants.

As Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area blogger Andrew Baggarly points out, the team that once employed Willie Mays and Monte Irvin now has no African-American players on its spring training roster.

One of the highlights of the spring is when Willie Mays arrives and sits at his customary table in the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse, and starts chirping at Mike Murphy.

This year, the moment came with a bit of melancholy.

That’s because as I looked around the room, I realized that Mays, and his assistant, were the only people of African-American heritage in it.

We know the trends. You’ve heard about them for a long time. The percentage of African-Americans in baseball, which peaked at close to 30 percent in the 1970s, has dwindled down to single digits.

Sure, there have been times when the Giants did not have a single African-American on the roster. But no representation whatsoever in big league spring training? More than 70 players, and not one African-American in the room? That realization stunned me.

I spent a half-hour going through every roster, and sure enough, the Giants are the only major league organization with zero African-Americans in big league camp. Some teams have more representation than others, sure. The Atlanta Braves will feature three African-Americans in their starting outfield, with the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward. But each of the other 29 teams at least has one African-American player in camp.

Read/learn more at CSNBayArea.com.