PHILADELPHIA (AP) — When Jimmy Rollins made his first All-Star team as a rookie with the Philadelphia Phillies 20 years ago, the percentage of Black players in the majors was 13.
It’s down to 7.6% this year.
As the Phillies celebrated Jackie Robinson Day along with the rest of baseball on Thursday and Friday, Rollins reflected on the decline.
“It’s more than just one thing,” Rollins told The Associated Press. “Marketing. The NBA and the NFL, those guys’ faces are plastered all over the screen. Baseball, there isn’t really a great deal of marketing. Obviously, everyone knows about Mike Trout and rightfully so, but there are some young Black players that deserves some light, too.”
Rollins pointed to Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds as popular players who were marketed well when he was growing up.
“But when you start going outside of that select few, the sport itself isn’t marketing anyone else in a major way where kids from the inner cities are attracted to it,” he said.
Rollins and teammate Ryan Howard won consecutive NL Most Valuable Player awards with the Phillies in 2006 and 2007. Rollins was the leadoff hitter and Howard batted cleanup for a team that won five straight NL East titles, two NL pennants and the 2008 World Series. The possibilities for marketing two superstars on the same dominant team should’ve been endless.
“I remember we, a lot of Black players, had a phone call with Spike Lee years ago,” Rollins said. “We flew out to Chicago. We were with MLB and the union and Spike Lee. We talked about doing commercials. Nothing ever came of that. It was like a one-time thing. Not to knock MLB, but they’re going to do things that, at face value, look great. But the impact is minimal because there’s generally never any true…