The World Series is the biggest stage in baseball, making it the ultimate showcase for the sport. In addition to crowning a champion, the Series also provides a snapshot of the tectonic shifts occurring within the game.
One troubling trend for baseball will be on full display during the 2022 Fall Classic as the Philadelphia Phillies battle the Houston Astros for the title.
For the first time since 1950, this year's World Series will not include any active African-American players. Not coincidentally, the 1950 Fall Classic also featured the Phillies -- the last National League team to integrate.
The absence of African-American players reflects a concerning demographic trend for baseball that has been happening for almost half a century. The proportion of Black players peaked in MLB during the 1970s but has been steadily declining since then. The 2022 season featured the lowest percentage of Black players in decades.
There are a number of reasons for the decline in African-American participation, including the exploding popularity of the NFL and NBA (both of which provide more money upfront than baseball) as well as limited access to fields and equipment. Regardless, it continues to be an issue for the sport that annually celebrates Jackie Robinson and his crucial place in American history.
Baseball has often held up a mirror to America, for good and for bad. This year's World Series reflects the need for more diversity not just in MLB, but in other sports and institutions as well.