It’s hard to watch the college-baseball World Series, under way now in Omaha, Neb., without noticing how different the college game is from the major-league version. Not in the caliber of play or the funny ping of the aluminum bats, but in the way the players look.
College players in the three main divisions are 86% white, according to the most-recent NCAA figures. That’s a big difference from Major League Baseball, where one study puts the number at less than 60%. The most striking difference is in the number of Latinos on the field: They made up about 29% of all major leaguers in 2007 but only 5% of players in college.
While the percentage of Latino players has more than doubled in professional baseball since 1990, accounting for top stars such as Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, the percentage of minorities in the college game remains extremely low. That’s especially true for Latinos, for whom college ball’s failure to keep pace with the diversity of the major leagues is most striking. And that’s embarrassing to some.
“We don’t like that we’re all-white, either,” says Ron Polk, who retired last month after 29 years as the head baseball coach at Mississippi State University. “I don’t want anyone to draw the impression that we’re happy about it.”