Griffey calls lack of black players in MLB 'a baseball problem'
Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Ken Griffey Jr. believes Major League Baseball must do a better job of attracting African-Americans to the sport.

The Hall of Famer said Sunday - one day before the league honors Jackie Robinson by wearing No. 42 in every game - that changes must start at the grassroots level.

"I don’t think it's the intent of baseball not to have black ballplayers,’’ Griffey told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. "But we have to find a way to get these kids back. We lost them to football. We lost them to basketball. We lost them to golf. People don’t see how cool and exciting this game is.

"The NFL and NBA has done a better job than we have in showing the fun side of the sport, having people talk about it whether it's on social media, commercials or the news.

"Really, it's not a black problem or a white problem, but it's a baseball problem."

This season, just 7.7 percent of MLB players are African-American, with only 68 counted among the 882 that appeared on Opening Day rosters, injured lists and restricted lists, according to Nightengale. Eleven teams don't have more than one on their 25-man roster.

There were twice as many African-American players in baseball - including 15 on the 1989 All-Star team - when Griffey arrived in the majors, Nightengale added. There were only seven in the 2018 All-Star Game.

Meanwhile, MLB will be celebrating Robinson's 100th birthday throughout the season. April 15 marks the anniversary of him breaking the sport's color barrier.

Griffey calls lack of black players in MLB 'a baseball problem'
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