Baseball fans and players descended upon Boston’s Fenway Park in April to celebrate the heroism of late baseball great Jackie Robinson, the first African-American professional baseball player in the 20th Century, who debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Renowned expert on labor law, race, and sports William B. Gould, Beardsley Professor of Law, Emeritus, took to the mound to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
“Less than 10 percent of Major League Baseball players today are black Americans, down from 27 percent in 1975,” said Gould, who as former chair of the National Labor Relations Board helped to settle the 1994–95 baseball strike, in his April 12 article for the Boston Globe. “Baseball has moved backward from Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough . . . The black youngster who hopes for a free ride through an athletic scholarship cannot seriously consider baseball.”