Professional baseball is commonly referred to as America’s pastime and an American game, but given the actual ethnic makeup of the MLB, that point is not valid. For example, on the 2012 MLB opening day, 38.2% of the league was a person of color. Latinos made up 27.3% of the league, African-Americans 8.8%, and Asians 1.9%. The MLB’s ethnic makeup is a reflection of the game’s diversity. So, although we idealize professional baseball as American and consider the standard definition of an American as a white male, around 40% of players in the MLB are people of color.
The game is not as homogenous as it was in the past, and in fact, it should be referred to as an international game since early forms of baseball began in England and not the U.S. Furthermore, although the United States hosts the World Baseball classic, the United States has never won the World Baseball Classic or even placed in the top three. Instead, the Dominican Republic won the championship in 2013 as Puerto Rico placed 2nd, Japan 3rd, and the Netherlands 4th. Thus, giving the title of “American” to the game of baseball insinuates an American superiority that is not an accurate representation of the American team’s skill.
Amongst individual baseball players, the Venezuelan player Miguel Cabrera won the 2012 American League MVP award and currently has the strongest batting average in the American League for the current season in process. The African-American player David Price won the 2012 American League Cy Young award. And many MLB poster boys are from the Dominican Republic, such as Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Albert Pujols. Clearly, people of color have a tremendous influence over the game. It’s no longer a white man’s game.
The MLB is in the United States, but that does not mean the players are all from the United States. It is a global sport and should be recognized as one.