Not as simple as black and white: An investigation of alleged stacking practices and the rise of the Latino population within Major League Baseball's positional categories, 1993--1997

Benjamin Douglas Goss


Though most racial discriminating constructs have faded from baseball, debate continues over alleged subtle discriminatory practices. One concern involves stacking, or positional segregation by race. Though baseball stacking studies have been conducted since 1967, methodological inconsistencies make generalizing the studies difficult. Such differences involve pitcher inclusion or exclusion, racial classifications and categorizations, subject selection from offensive or defensive statistics, designated hitter inclusion or exclusion, and defensive positional categorizations. Another area regarding race and baseball involves Latinos as a minority group in the populations of the United States and Major League Baseball. Research indicates that baseball's growing Latino representation may contradict current stacking theories and necessitate reconsideration. Despite growth and increased public attention, stacking literature has largely neglected Latinos. This study propagates stacking literature by examining Major League Baseball from 1993 through 1997 for evidence of stacking within positional categories and by addressing Whites, Blacks, and Latinos separately. Defensive positions were categorized by similar functions. Four positional categories were established: Pitcher (pitchers only), Central (catchers, second basemen, and shortstops only), Intermediate (first basemen and third basemen only), and Noncentral (left fielders, center fielders, and right fielders only). One general research question guided the study: does any evidence of stacking exist in Pitching, Central, Intermediate, and Noncentral categories in Major League Baseball from 1993 through 1997? From the general research question, eight specific research questions were posed. From those questions, seven hypotheses were drawn to present descriptive data relative to the study's variables. Hypotheses were accepted or rejected based upon tests using the chi-square test of independence and an α ≤ .05 rejection level. After analysis of the data, no significant relationships were found between any ethnic class and year within any positional category, nor between any positional category and year within any racial category. This lack of significance indicates that stacking still exists within Major League Baseball's positional categories. However, several emerging trends were noted, including declining Black overrepresentation in Noncentral positions, increasing Latino overrepresentation in Central positions, declining White overrepresentation in the Pitcher category, and increasing Latino representation in the Pitcher category. Such trends may signal future changes in positional populations.