Immigrants in Sports


jackie robinson

Why are there so few Black American players in MLB 74 years after Jackie Robinson took the field?

IIR alum Marissa Kiss, PhD and former Mason professor Earl Smith published an op ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer featuring their research into Major League Baseball, immigration, and race.

"The rise of the academy system in the Caribbean and South America during the 1980s, and a shift in the pipeline to the major leagues for native-born players in the 1990s, altered the demographic makeup of MLB players. As a result, a new MLB emerged. This MLB featured fewer American-born Black players. It relied on the recruitment, extraction, and exploitation of foreign-born Latino players and American-born parents’ wealth to cultivate their sons’ talent through showcase events, private coaches, or sports academies like IMG Academy.

Thus, we can no longer say that baseball is part of the American Dream. Major League Baseball is a story of the haves and the have-nots; it is a story of the colony and the country club."

baseball article

Can Small-Town America Survive Pandemic's Hit to Minor League Baseball?

This article describes how international baseball players transform small towns. Former IIR Graduate Research Assistant Marissa Kiss is quoted.


America's International Pastime

IIR Director Dr. James Witte and former IIR Graduate Research Assistant and Mason Grad Student Marissa Kiss discussed how baseball has become an international sport on the With Good Reason podcast.


The Streak(s) Continue: Immigrant Players Bring Baseball Victories 

With its 4-3 victory the American League continues its recent dominance of the All Star Game, but despite the greater number of foreign born players on the National League roster, it was actually the American League team that played the greatest number of immigrant All-Stars, nine to the National League’s eight.


Predicting the Outcome of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game: Immigrant Ball Players Are a Key Factor

With this year’s game coming July 9, die-hard fans, inquiring minds and hopeful gamblers want to know who will win: the National League or the American League? Our answer? The team that plays the greatest percentage of foreign-born players.


Immigrants in Sports

Baseball: The (Inter) National Pastime

This report looks at foreign-born players in Major League Baseball and highlights two examples—the 2017 All Star Game and the Division leading, Washington Nationals—to illustrate how changes in professional sports mirror and foreshadow the broader impact of demographic change and increasing globalization.

 Hot in Cleveland

Hot in Cleveland: What Kept Cleveland's Winning Streak Cooking? U.S. Born Pitchers and Foreign-Born Hitters

Overall, 90 percent of Cleveland Indians' pitchers are born in the United States, and 90 percent are white. However, this number changes when you look at the starting pitchers; two-thirds of the starting pitchers for the Cleveland Indians are born in the United States and one-third are foreign-born.