The starting catcher for the National League All-Star team tonight is my new favorite baseball player, Russell Martin of the Dodgers. He`s an example of a growing phenomenon
I`ve been noticing, such as the triumph of Jordin Sparks in American Idol. As African-American culture becomes more narrowly focused on a few areas, such as football and basketball but not baseball, that leaves big openings for part-black people raised in white culture. Martin`s father was an African-American and his mother a white Quebecois. He spent a few years of his childhood living in Paris.
Catching is a highly technical skill, unlike playing the outfield where sheer footspeed matters most. So, as African Americans have lost interest in baseball, the number of African Americans catchers has dropped particularly sharply. In Bill James` second version of his Baseball Historical Abstract
covering 1875-2000, there are only four African American catchers among the top 100 catchers, and those from fairly early after integration (Roy Campanella,
who had an Italian father, Elston Howard, John Roseboro, and Earl Battey). In contrast there are 27 African American centerfielders (the position demanding the most speed) among the top 100.
So, it`s not surprising that a star catcher with some black descent will have grown up in a largely white cultural milieu.