Where Are The Non-White Kids In the Little League World Series?

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If it didn’t come off so creepy in this age of To Catch A Predator, we’d confess that we really, really enjoy watching the Little League World Series. As it stands, let’s just say that it’s very entertaining and we spent a good part of weekend television time watching our nation’s best young athletes try their darndest to impress their overbearing parents while their “miked-up” coaches did their darndest not to cuss and/or threaten to beat lil’ Timmy senseless if he doesn’t lay down that bunt.

But in all seriousness, every year the LLWS is a refreshingly seminal moment in the dog days of summer. It’s a reminder of baseball’s beauty and is the perfect warm-up for the September pennant races and October playoff glory. The LLWS is always great.

But we couldn’t help but notice something this year that we never really noticed before: all the American kids are white. Watching the games casually off and on for the past week or so, we haven’t noticed any black, Hispanic or Asian kids on any of the American teams. Surely this could not be, could it? All the American teams are white?

Inspired and a little bored, it was time to do some research. And by do research, we mean check the intarnets. Here’s what we found:

Now, we’re not saying that there’s some sinister plot behind the paucity of non-white kids or anything; to be sure, the dearth could be total coincidence. There are dozens of possibilities that could chalk it up to something innocuous, like the precipitous fall of baseball from pop culture.

But, out of eight teams and almost 100 kids, there’s one (maybe 1.5) non-white kid? In America? In the year that we’ve celebrated both the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut and Hank Aaron’s bravery?

We’re not sayin’, we’re just sayin’. It’s merely … curious.

Excuse us, Chris Hansen is at the door.

32 Responses to Where Are The Non-White Kids In the Little League World Series?

  1. karlifornia says:

    Coon Rapids not having any black players isn’t shocking. Do you think a white kid would be comfortable playing on an all-black team in the town of Cracker Creek?

  2. barca says:

    This is a great post. It validates CC Sabathia’s point earlier this year that young black kids are detering from the game of baseball. It’s just too bad. I thought your research was shocking, to say the least. It’s dissapointing to say the least, but if you look at the demographics that live in each of those areas, it’s mostly white. Heck, Lake Oswego is where Mike Dunlevey went to high school (and I believe grew up). Can you really get more white than that?!

    I love your blog, by the way. Keep it up, and thanks!

  3. msj says:

    People forget that Little League is not everywhere. My home town in Massachusetts is about 30% hispanic and has never had LL. Even when it was 99% white. So, it is possible and likely the LL is mostly in suburbs and rural areas.

  4. AMR says:

    Check the northeast again… Mark Waguespack

    http://www.littleleague.org/series/2007divisions/llbb/teams/usmidatlantic/markwaguespack.htm

    Has either some East Asian or Native American heritage.
    And Dominque Reff, from Coon Rapids, is very not white:

    http://www.littleleague.org/series/2007divisions/llbb/teams/usmidwest/dominiquereff.htm

  5. TheBuddha says:

    I’m not sure where you’re from, but in my neck of the woods (and, apparently, Lake Charles, Louisiana) Tre Goodly is most definitely a black name for a black baseballer (see what I did there? I added an “-er” to the end of “baseball” to make it even more black. Isn’t that AMAZING! Isn’t that GENIUS!)

  6. Say Hey says:

    @TheBuddha: You’re looking at the wrong year there, champ. We’re in 2007.

  7. Tom says:

    What the hell’s in the water in Lake Oswego, Oregon? Two kids over six feet tall on the team?

    I think it’s more constructive to look at where these towns are:
    Hamilton, Ohio: Suburb of Cincinnati.
    Lubbock, Texas: In West Texas.
    Salisbury, Maryland: Near the ocean.
    Coon Rapids, Minnesota: Suburb of Minneapolis.
    Walpole, Mass: Suburb of Boston.
    Lake Oswego, Oregon: Suburb of Portland.
    Warner Robins, Georgia: I guess it’s a suburb of Macon. If Macon has suburbs.
    Chandler, Arizona: Suburb of Phoenix.

    In other words, most of these teams are from the suburbs (or West Texas.) What the hell do you expect?

  8. Derrick says:

    I was at the Padres / Astros game on Saturday night, and the Astros had an all-white lineup in for that game. First time I’d ever noticed that at a big league game.

  9. Blabber says:

    Baseball is not considered a high-profile sport by today’s African American youth.

    There’s Football and there’s Basketball.

    Each uphold the social strata and recognition idealized by today’s youth culture.

    But not baseball.

    Baseball is boring. And the uniforms are gay.

  10. Tom says:

    Blabber: yeah, I think part of the problem baseball has is that there’s no instant gratification the way there is in football or basketball. To play in the major leagues, you have to toil in the minors for a few years. Even with the new draft rules, top basketball players can play in the NBA at 19, and the NFL makes its players spend three years in college, but even then college football (at least in the BCS leagues) is a glamour sport.

    These days most of the non-white players in the major leagues come from, well, other countries. And that’s reflected in the LLWS: most of the non-white players are from other countries.

  11. Real American says:

    seriously. If you’re not making some accusations of racial discrimination, what does it matter? Stop race baiting.

  12. Real American says:

    according to CC Sabathia, Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado aren’t “black” because they’re foreigners.

  13. Tom says:

    Fun stat of the day: It looks like the team from the Netherlands has more non-white players than all the American teams combined. Yes, the Netherlands.

    Have a look for yourself:

    http://www.littleleague.org/series/2007divisions/llbb/teams/emea/team.htm

  14. […] • This is what Major League Baseball will look like in 20 years. [SH] […]

  15. Phil says:

    Bryndan Arredondo from Lubbock, Texas is Hispanic, as is his father, Gerald, the team’s coach.

    The majority of kids who play Little League in Lubbock are Hispanic. Western Little League just so happens to encompass most of Lubbock’s upper-middle-class neighborhoods, so their kids are predominantly white.

    Non-whites are playing baseball in Lubbock– they’re just not as good as the bunch from Western.

  16. Henry Holland says:

    We’re not sayin’, we’re just sayin’. It’s merely … curious.

    Oh, bullshit. You’re totally sayin’ “Racist 12-year olds! racist 12-years and their racist parents”. Jeebus.

    In other words, most of these teams are from the suburbs (or West Texas.) What the hell do you expect?

    Ding. Add in:

    a) baseball is not an easy career path. Football and basketball players can be in their top tier by the time they’re 21 (earlier if their a basketball player and skip part or all of college) or so; it’s not uncommon for baseball players not to even debut in the bigs until they’re 26 or 27. So, you’re an African-American gifted three-sport athlete faced with a choice. Do you

    1) take the big money at 21 or
    2) ride around on shitty buses between shitty little towns that aren’t exactly bastions of racial enlightenment, making about $800/month as you work your way up from rookie ball > A > AA > AAA > MLB?

    Duh, you take 1) every time.

    b) I live in a heavily urban area in Los Angeles (MacArthur Park); it’s mostly Latino but the point is this: baseball fields require huge fields. Football, not so much, basketball courts can be found at any middle school/high school around here. There’s a good reason all of those teams are from the ‘burbs: ESPN does a Google Maps ™ thing of each team and without fail, they play in places that have 2-4 diamonds, surrounded by not much.

    c) as noted, one of the teams is from an upper-middle-class area. That means better fields, better equipment and these days, specialized coaching. Money buys success. Well, OK, unless you’re the Redskins.

    Sorry if all that has been covered by the time I finish typing this. There was a great article in SI a few years about why blacks don’t play baseball as much anymore, and they mention things like kids growing up with fathers, poor/non-existent facilities and all that. So baseball is mostly white/hispanic? Basketball is mostly black, so is football outside of a few positions (QB, O-line). Big deal.

  17. Henry Holland says:

    We’re not sayin’, we’re just sayin’. It’s merely … curious.

    Oh, bullshit. You’re totally sayin’ “Racist 12-year olds! racist 12-years and their racist parents”. Jeebus.

    In other words, most of these teams are from the suburbs (or West Texas.) What the hell do you expect?

    Ding. Add in:

    a) baseball is not an easy career path. Football and basketball players can be in their top tier by the time they’re 21 (earlier if their a basketball player and skip part or all of college) or so; it’s not uncommon for baseball players not to even debut in the bigs until they’re 26 or 27. So, you’re an African-American gifted three-sport athlete faced with a choice. Do you

    1) take the big money at 21 or
    2) ride around on shitty buses between shitty little towns that aren’t exactly bastions of racial enlightenment, making about $800/month as you work your way up from rookie ball > A > AA > AAA > MLB?

    Duh, you take 1) every time.

    b) I live in a heavily urban area in Los Angeles (MacArthur Park); it’s mostly Latino but the point is this: baseball fields require huge fields. Football, not so much, basketball courts can be found at any middle school/high school around here. There’s a good reason all of those teams are from the ‘burbs: ESPN does a Google Maps ™ thing of each team and without fail, they play in places that have 2-4 diamonds, surrounded by not much.

    c) as noted, one of the teams is from an upper-middle-class area. That means better fields, better equipment and these days, specialized coaching. Money buys success. Well, OK, unless you’re the Redskins.

    Sorry if all that has been covered by the time I finish typing this. There was a great article in SI a few years about why blacks don’t play baseball as much anymore, and they mention things like kids growing up without fathers, poor/non-existent facilities and all that. So baseball is mostly white/hispanic? Basketball is mostly black, so is football outside of a few positions (QB, O-line). Big deal.

  18. Henry Holland says:

    Crap. Sorry about the double post.

  19. Tom says:

    Henry Holland: Yeah, you kind of wonder about it when black leaders are complaining about how baseball is “only” 9% (or so) African-American. News flash: America is only about 12 or 13% black — which, considering all the foreign players in baseball, I’d guess that about that percentage of the American players are black. So, really, they’re not complaining about the lack of blacks in baseball; they seem to be complaining more about why blacks don’t dominate baseball the way they do football and basketball.

    Football doesn’t require huge fields? Well, I suppose organized football does, though “pickup” football doesn’t. I think the big difference is that to become good (like, major-league good) at baseball, you need to start playing at a young age. Good athletes can take up football or basketball in high school and end up in the NFL or NBA. Most football players don’t even start playing until they’re in high school (or, maybe, junior high.)

  20. Les says:

    I’d also take a look at the last names….some are definitely not what one might define as “Caucasian” cultures in origin.

  21. kenny tomson says:

    why is it a problem that black kids don’t play baseball? nothing is preventing it other than their lack of interest.

  22. John C. says:

    I am from ( near) Salisbury, MD and lived there for many years. I am from the beach it is close to ( about 30 miles). Salisbury is over 30% African-American ( see Census), so it’s not exactly a white suburb ( it’s more of a town, heard of those?).

    I haven’t lived there in a couple years and am not familiar at all with the little league. When I played Little League ( late 80s- early 90s) it was closer to the beach and a lot of black kids were on the teams.

    Back then, non-white kids who wanted to be football or basketball stars waited until High School to quit. Most played LL through age 13-14 ( and some dominated) then quit to focus on football and/or basketball.

    FWIW, I went to High School in an area in lower Delaware ( moved about 30 miles when I was 16) that was much more “white” than anywhere I had lived in MD. And there were quite a few black players on the HS Varsity B-Ball team. The ratio of races was probably the same as Football ( high concentration of rednecks with a few blacks stars scattered in).

  23. VNelson says:

    Why is this article so difficult to understand? It is not that hard. If there is a problem it is simply because we (black, hispanic or any minority) do not wish to put out the money to organize a serious team ourselves for our youths. It is one thing to say this is outrageous but more outrageous is the fact we don’t put up the money. And sadly that is what it comes down to – CASH! Each community has one, two or three major moneymaker in their neighborhood yet we are fearful of asking for his/her support. And with that the picture will always be white. They will do anything to stay on TOP!

  24. al campanis says:

    VNelson – nah, you’re not racist.

  25. tito says:

    I’m from Portland and some locals refer to Lake Oswego as Lake Nonegro. Of course, being a Trail Blazer is an exception to that rule.

  26. Blabber says:

    There’s no racism involved here. Just black kids thinking baseball is dumb:

    Baseball is not considered a high-profile sport by today’s African American youth.

    There’s Football and there’s Basketball.

    Each uphold the social strata and recognition idealized by today’s youth culture.

    But not baseball.

    “Baseball is boring. And the uniforms are gay.”

  27. BobH says:

    What’s going on with that Mexican team? Not a single blond-haired kid…

  28. […] Where Are The Non-White Kids In the Little League World Series? – Say Hey: A Bay Area Sports Blog “all the American kids are white. Watching the games casually off and on for the past week or so, we haven’t noticed any black, Hispanic or Asian kids on any of the American teams. Surely this could not be, could it? All the American teams are white?” (tags: via:solmij14 sports race) […]

  29. Say Hey says:

    Just wanted to pass along this comment/email from Anthony:

    “One point that was not mentioned is that blacks do play youth baseball. Here in Oakland instead of Little League, they mainly play in the Babe Ruth League and might I add- are usually in nationals at all age levels yearly. Oakland Little League ( The affluent North Oakland LL and the little less affluent South Oakland LL ) are mainly white with Asians, Latinos and a couple of blacks sprinkled in. They’ve been good but not as successful as Oakland Babe Ruth. While LL is more prestigious, Oakland black youths (out of tradition I guess ) normally veer towards Babe Ruth… then of course when high school rolls around… follow the nationwide trend of basketball and football.”

    [Sidenote: I had to turn off comments for a bit because there were a bunch of insensitive ones that had to be deleted. Comments are back on now, but keep it nice, ok kids?]

  30. patriot says:

    I think you could make the case that white Americans may be voting against multiculturalism by choosing to self segregate. These teams are clearly from all white areas.

    And I would guess that successful teams and leagues are run by successful parents who are very involved with their kids.

    What drives liberals nuts is that these teams come from local communities and are run by the parents.

    No doubt there will be calls by some to have federal funding for baseball in black cities! I know for a fact that MLB already subsidizes youth sports in black areas. And despite this ‘sports welfare’ they still don’t have much to show for it.

  31. Anonymous says:

    How many people complain about the percentage of whites in the NBA, even though whites are still 65% of the American population?

    Yet blacks try and stirr up a storm of controversy over the fact that baseball slightly underrepresents them.

    Sheesh, what a bunch of winers!

    No doubt there wining will be followed by demands for more money for the inner cities…

  32. […] Wii and DSLittle League World Series ChampRemembering the 1975 Little League World Series ChampionsWhere Are The Non-White Kids In the Little League World Series? jQuery(document).ready(function(){ […]

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