BASES EMPTY: The Decline of African-Americans in Baseball

In 1947, Jackie Robinson crossed the color line to become the first African-American Major League Baseball player of the modern era. It was a momentous moment for baseball, for civil rights and for our country. African-Americans soon became an integral part of MLB. However, by 2012, the number of African-Americans playing Major League Baseball had fallen drastically. Only 8.05% of the team’s rosters were Black – the lowest percentage since baseball’s earliest days of integration. Compare this to 1975, when 27% of rosters were African-American. What happened? Why such a sharp decline?


""BASES EMPTY": The Decline of African-Americans in Baseball' is a feature length documentary that takes a careful, insightful look at the declining participation of African-Americans in baseball. Although it focuses primarily on the lack of participation at the professional level, it takes a critical look at factors that contribute to the apparent lack of interest African-American boys, adolescents and young men have in the sport of baseball at the amateur levels. It also addresses some of the socio-economic issues African-American communities currently face due, in part, to the diminished presence of baseball in the Black community. Finally, BASES EMPTY looks at current efforts to revive interest in the African-American community of a recreational activity that once served as a source and cement of community stability, positive social engagement, institutional development and sense of community achievement.


Both entertaining and informative, BASES EMPTY tells the story of what happened to baseball in the Black community and why. We hear fascinating interviews with people like M.C. Johnson – who played against Satchel Paige in the Negro Leagues, and Kenny Fullman – a Chicago Police Officer who, after seeing his father gunned down by gang members in front of him at the age of 12, grew up to become a head coach in the Chicago White Sox ACE (Amateur City Elite) program. The ACE program is a wonderful program that enables young men in underserved communities to play travel baseball and prepares them for college and beyond.


All of these narratives, along with interviews from award winning historians and sports writers, are interwoven with archival and modern day footage to tell a compelling story.


We hope our film inspires more kids of all races to play America’s Pastime. We believe this will improve communities, build relationships and enhance baseball.


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