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Black Kids Don’t Dream of Baseball

Jackie Robinson

I love baseball, deeply.

I played stickball and punchball growing up on the potholed streets of Jersey City, and dreamed of becoming a second baseman for the New York Yankees.

I hungrily digested book after book on historic and mythical figures such as Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb, and played Little League, Babe Ruth League and high school baseball.

Little did I know that Jackie Robinson, the first Black player in Major League Baseball in the modern era, had created the possibility of dreams for Black boys like me. As a child I only vaguely knew that he broke baseball's color line.

In the new film 42this weekend's top-grossing movie, more Americans will learn about how Robinson heroically integrated Major League Baseball.

But on Jackie Robinson Day,  there are fewer African-American players in the sport, and many Black boys no longer aspire to play baseball.

There are a number of reasons for this decline.

One, it is simply far cheaper to play basketball than to purchase equipment for baseball, especially if you are poor, as I was. There is no longer the kind investment in the sport as we see with youth basketball leagues and camps.

Second, there is more interest in basketball and football.

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