Lone Black Pirate Still Standing

Updated: May 22, 2006



They dumped their Black manager and

3 of their 4 African American players

maybe that’s why the Pirates are

Buried Deep in Last Place

this Season

That may be wishful thinking on our part but Justice nonetheless. Meet Ian Snell last African American Pittsburgh Pirate still Standing. And since Snell is a starting pitcher that means about once every 5 games this season you will find an African American playing. If he stays in the Rotation. All season long.

Ian Snell is truly a Paradox

reflecting the Promise and

Problem of Baseball

A gifted athlete who might have chosen other sports who played basketball and football well and ran track all in high school.

Cynics might say his size drove him to Baseball being 5’11” and 188 lbs. but that would be untrue. Besides if size is an issue than there are plenty of other talented athletic young African Americans of comparable height and weight who should be drawn to Baseball.

Last season Snell in his 2nd season was one of 4 African Americans playing for the Pirates.

The other 3 who are now gone are Outfielders Tike Redman and Matt Lawton, and First Baseman Daryle Ward.

Their disappearance reflects only too well the general trend long taking place in Baseball. Further highlighted in Pittsburgh with the firing of one of the too few Black managers in MLB after last season, Lloyd McClendon. The reduction of African American players at the same time may be more than a Coincidence.

This is the same Franchise that won the World Series back in 1979 with 10 African Americans on its roster led by Willie Stargell. 27 years later any MLB team having 10 African American players on its roster is Impossible.

In all of the Major Leagues this season their are 69 African Americans of 750 roster players. That amounts to 9%. Compare that with 80% of NBA players and 67% of NFL players.

Or 27% of MLB players in 1976. The high point.

Snell like others has his strong opinions why there are so few young African Americans following his path. He describes the draft process in baseball and the often long wait of 5 or 6 years in the minors and out of the Limelight playing for low pay before all but the most gifted get their chance to play in the Bigs. Then again the same could be said of White kids.

By some accounts 1% of players eligible for being drafted by the 30 MLB teams to toil in their minor league systems get drafted. Then again there are long odds in all the pro sports. White or Black most kids who play on high school. junior college or college teams or who try other routes never get paid to play sports.

Which brings us back to Ian Snell

and why more African Americans

should see in him an example

an option for Themselves

Ian Snell is not likely to become a world beater, or Black Ace. His record this season is a modest 3 wins and 3 losses but above the Pittsburgh record. He plays for a last place team with no prospects this season. He barely makes above the MLB minimum earning $330,000 this season. Still at 24 he is playing Major League Baseball. A more powerful experience than anything else he might be doing. And probably making far more money than he would otherwise at 24.

No matter how long his career lasts if he is sharp enough to take advantage of his time in the Big Leagues, and if he uses his off season well, he should be able to create either excellent non-baseball careers options for himself, or find a path for himself in Baseball that lasts far beyond his time on the Diamond.

The Point is

Smart Black kids and their parents, those kids drawn to sports would be smart to put aside their football and basketball fantasies, and consider concentrating their energies on the Baseball Field. Turn the current disadvantage for African Americans in Baseball into an advantage and a worthy challenge whether or not they ultimately make it to the Pros. Gaining personal value playing Baseball.

Keeping in mind 2 pivotal Facts.

First that African Americans had to fight their way into Major League Baseball to begin with, and only beginning in 1947 did they begin to succeed and then for 2 decades or more when Black kids were still consumed by Baseball there were a tremendous number of Black Successes.

It can happen again

as it did before and

Ian Snell is One

modest example

of the Potential

other Black kids

can realize


Whenever you want to reach us with comments or better yet an idea for a topic for the Box ……. blackbox@blackathlete.net