Robin­son: MLB play­ers re­luc­tant to speak out

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK » Jackie Robin­son’s daugh­ter thinks black base­ball play­ers are more re­luc­tant to speak pub­licly about racial is­sues than their NFL and NBA col­leagues be­cause they con­sti­tute a lower per­cent­age of ros­ters.

She spoke at Citi Field on Sun­day to mark Jackie Robin­son Day, the 71st an­niver­sary of her fa­ther break­ing Ma­jor League Base­ball’s color bar­rier with the Brook­lyn Dodgers.

While more than 200 NFL play­ers protested racial in­equal­ity last sea­son by kneel­ing or sit­ting dur­ing “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner,” Oak­land Ath­let­ics catcher Bruce Maxwell was the only base­ball player to take a knee.

“I don’t think they have much choice,” Sharon Robin­son said. “They are in the mi­nor­ity and where in foot­ball and bas­ket­ball you have a group and there­for you

can take a group ac­tion. So play­ers if they speak out in­di­vid­u­ally, they could be the only African-Amer­i­can player on their team and it could be a dif­fi­cult spot for them to be in.”

The per­cent­age of black play­ers from the United States and Canada on open­ing- day ac­tive ros­ters rose to 8.4 per­cent, up from 7.7 last year and its high­est level since at least 2012.

The per­cent­age peaked at 19 in 1986, MLB said last week, cit­ing Mark Ar­mour of the So­ci­ety of Amer­i­can Base­ball Re­search.

Base­ball Com­mis­sioner Bud Selig re­tired Jackie Robin­son’s No. 42 through­out the ma­jor leagues in 1997, made Jackie Robin­son Day an an­nual event in 2004 and five years later started ask­ing all play­ers to wear No. 42 each April 15.

An ed­u­ca­tional con­sul­tant to Ma­jor League Base­ball, Sharon Robin­son at­tended the first-pitch cer­e­mony be­fore the Met­sMil­wau­kee game with her mom, 95-year- old Rachel Robin­son. On a chilly af­ter­noon, the game time tem­per­a­ture was 42.

Sharon Robin­son said ac­tion among African-Amer­i­can play­ers is more an in­di­vid­ual un­der­tak­ing.

“They do it around their in­volve­ment in com­mu­nity them­selves, and talk about why that’s im­por­tant,” she said.

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