It’s lonely at the top for Black MLB All-Star pitchers.
Earlier this week, six African-American players were selected to participate in MLB’s 2018 All-Star Game. All six were outfielders, which isn’t surprising considering (if I had to make an educated guess) that’s the path that close to 90 percent of current Black players have taken to MLB. There were 68 African Americans on rosters on Opening Day, six more than a year ago, when baseball had its lowest percentage of black players since 1958.
When Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jeremy Jeffress was named to the National League All-Star roster on Thursday, he gave the Brewers a franchise-record five All-Star selections and became the seventh Black Knight to be featured in this year’s ASG.
Jeremy Jeffress has been named to the All-Star game! The #Brewers now have a franchise-record 5 All-Stars in 2018. #ThisIsMyCrew
JJ is already a novelty of sorts as a Black pitcher. He’s not only a Black pitcher, but he is a reliever and was voted to the All-Star game, which is certainly noteworthy under the current circumstances.
We have seen Black Knights such as Joe Ross, Marcus Stroman, David Price and Chris Archer grace the Midsummers Classic in recent years, but they are starters. As rare as Black starting pitchers are, the percentage of Black relief pitchers in MLB are even lower — like nonexistent.
In honor of Jeremy Jeffress’s return to Milwaukee, enjoy some of his best moments and highlights from his 2016 season with the Brewers. All rights to the content of this video goes to Fox Sports Wisconsin, MLB and MLB Advanced Media.
According to a study of Baseballs Demographics from 1947-2016, The Society For American Baseball Research said that African Americans have been disproportionately underrepresented on the mound, consisting of between 2 and 3 percent of the major-league hurlers over the past twelve years.
The study says that there are 10 times as many Latino pitchers as there are African Americans, making Jeffress accomplishment all the more remarkable. Jeffress is 6-1 with a 0.99 ERA and a 0.838 WHIP for a surging Milwaukee Brewers team.
When it seemed as if Jeffress wouldn’t be selected to the team, a swelling of fan support pushed him over the top.
@JMontana41 deserved to be on the all star team. You done messed up now NL… https://t.co/PnIVYtZ0OX
JJ’s an impressive 23-7 for his career and throws 96 mph on the average, but it hasn’t been easy for the 30-year-old South Boston, Virginia native, who has bounced around to four different teams since making his MLB debut with Milwaukee in 2010. His road to All-Star recognition was littered with setbacks; personal and medical issues he had to overcome before getting it right on his third stint with Milwaukee.
We loved meeting Brewers relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress when he made his Morning Blend debut last summer! Unfortunately, shortly after that the Brewers traded the valuable pitcher to the Texas Rangers. Well, the Crew was lucky enough to get him back before the trade deadline, and we’re lucky enough to get him back, too!
On August 30, 2007, Jeffress was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for smoking too much ganja. This was not his first positive test, but was given a warning. In June 2009, he tested positive a third time and was suspended for 100 games. According to MLB’s drug policy, one more positive test will result in a lifetime ban. In that regard, he’s sort of like the MLBs Josh Gordon.
In June 2013 while with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, Jeffress was diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy, which explained his susceptibility to high anxiety and seizures he’d been experiencing. It also explains why before receiving a proper diagnosis, he self-medicated with marijuana.
10 things to know about new Rangers Jeremy Jeffress, including his battle with epilepsy https://t.co/9hB9TbfwNF
Jeffress final hiccup came in 2016 with a DUI arrest. He’s been able to put those growing pains behind him, is now drug and alcohol-free and shining as one of MLB’s few Black Knights who can hurl it from 60-feet-6 inches.
If you want to see one of the 8th Wonders of the world, then tune into the All-Star game and you might just get a glimpse of a Black relief pitcher.