Play Ball!

Who knew that the movie “The Sandlot” – celebrating 22 years this month – was way ahead of its time? You see how the main character and the team’s best baseball player, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, is Latino. I love that movie. But I had never thought about it in that cultural context.

While the 2015 demographic MLB Opening Day breakdown has yet to be released, 2014 provides an illustration of how diverse MLB is:

“The Dominican Republic again leads the Major Leagues with 83 players born outside the United States. Venezuela ranks second with 59 players, marking its fourth-highest total of all time. Cuba places third with 19 players, setting a new all-time high and surpassing last year’s record high of 15. Rounding out the totals are Puerto Rico (11); Canada (10); Japan (9), Mexico (9); Curaçao (5, surpassing its previous high of four set in 2009 and 2012); Colombia (4, matching its previous high set last year); Panama (4); Nicaragua (3, matching its previous high set in 2012); Australia (2); South Korea (2); Taiwan (2); Aruba (1); and Brazil (1).”

And with Cuban relations appearing to be easing, we’re bound to see a greater Cuban presence on MLB rosters similar to what we have seen in the Dominican Republic: a greater emphasis on training camps in Cuba.

MLB is ahead of its time, as it already (to an extent), exemplifies the estimated U.S. population in 2050. The U.S. Census projects that by 2050, Hispanics will make up about 29% of the total population. Today, 26.9% of MLB players are Hispanic. The biggest difference, however, is that the overwhelming majority of Hispanic MLB players (84%) are foreign born, in stark contrast to the just over 50% of U.S. born Hispanics. With U.S. born Hispanics steadily increasing, MLB will eventually be on par with total population.