Michele Meyer-Shipp doesn’t have to travel far to realize the challenge of growing the sport of baseball in the Black community.
She just sits down at the dinner table.
Meyer-Shipp, who is Major League Baseball’s chief people and culture officer, has three sons who love sports. They know all about some of baseball’s Black legends like Hank Aaron, the sport’s one-time home run king who recently died at age 86.
But today’s Black baseball stars? Not so much. “When I listen to my boys talk about sports, they’re always talking about the Black football player. Always,” Meyer-Shipp said. “We need our guys from baseball out there building a brand for Black talent in the game. I think that would really make a difference.”
Marketing the game’s best Black players was one of many topics discussed by a five-person panel of current MLB players, executives and coaches. The conversation, which was streamed on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) on MLB.com, is part of MLB’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, former Astros manager Bo Porter and Red Sox coach Bianca Smith were also on the panel. The 26-year-old Brinson said he started playing baseball in south Florida when he was 4 years old and immediately grew to love it, but as he got older, he eventually realized not many Black kids were playing baseball.
He said he only had two Black teammates from tee ball through high school. The number of Black players in MLB has been dwindling for years, hovering around 8% of the league in recent seasons.