Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Steve Malzberg Show | Ken Griffey Sr. | baseball | major-league | African-Americans

Ken Griffey Sr.: Black Players 'Losing Out' in MLB

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 02:22 PM

Former major-league baseball star Ken Griffey Sr. says the number of African-Americans playing in the major leagues continues to dwindle — and that's a crying shame.

"To be honest with you, I don't know if it's a bad thing or a good thing, but all I know is that we're losing out,'' Griffey said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"When I came in, it was 28 percent black in Major League Baseball. Now it's down to 8 percent.''

The sport is now dominated by Latin American players, said the star outfielder, who played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1973 to 1981 and the New York Yankees from 1982 to 1986, followed by stints with the Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners.

"It used to be Puerto Rico was the No. 1 Latin American team kids were coming from — Willie Montanez, Felix Millan, all those guys were from Puerto Rico,'' he said.

"But since the draft, there's no Puerto Rican kids, either. I'm hoping it turns around, I don't know how it's going to turn around or what's going to happen, but I'm hoping it turns around.''

Griffey — father of centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr., who played with the Reds, Mariners, and Chicago White Sox — is the author, with Phil Pepe, of "Big Red: Baseball, Fatherhood, and My Life in the Big Red Machine," published by Triumph Books.

Of all the teams he played for, Griffey Sr. has the softest spot in his heart for the Bronx Bombers.

"This was the only team that I was going to play for in the American League,'' Griffey said. "I never thought about any other team in the American League. I was going to play for the New York Yankees.''

He is in awe of retiring Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

"You're looking at him as the ultimate Yankee right now,'' Griffey said.

"Reggie Jackson is still around, and Yogi's [Berra] still there, but Derek is the man — [he] and the pitcher [Mariano] Rivera.''

Griffey was part of the Big Red Machine's World Series wins in 1975 and 1976, and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1980 All-Star Game. In 1,997 games, he had a lifetime batting average of .296, with 152 home runs and 859 RBI.

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