I was born in the 1980s and the very first sport I fell in love with was baseball. I fell in love with the legendary stats and records of the game, as well as how fun the game was growing up in North Carolina. Back when I first watched baseball in the 1980s, there were a ton of Black American baseball players who I looked up such as Bo Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry just to name a few. Today not only are the number of Black Americans declining on teams in Major League Baseball, the number of blacks in the stands have declined as well.Believe it or not, there was a time where baseball was the most popular sport among blacks here in the United States. Blacks would attend Negro League games in droves when Major League Baseball wouldn’t allow blacks to play. Even when MLB became integrated, blacks would attend the games to see stars such as Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, etc. There was a time when blacks enjoyed baseball, but something or a number of things have changed.First off, I believe the recent popularity of the NBA changed everything for blacks in America. First it was Magic Johnson and the Larry Bird era, which in my opinion raised the popularity of the NBA. The great Lakers/Celtics rivalry elevated ratings and brought the sport into the mainstream to compete with football and baseball. The man who I feel is really in charge for the decline of blacks major league baseball players is Michael Jordan.Michael Jordan made an entire culture want to be like Mike. From Nike, Gatorade and even McDonald’s commercials, the world couldn’t get enough of MJ. The NBA did an outstanding job of promoting Michael Jordan and in essence made blacks who might have thought about playing baseball, want to play basketball instead.In my opinion, that is why you saw the number of blacks increase in the NBA and decline in MLB. MLB has never had a star promote and on the same level as Michael Jordan. Ken Griffey Jr. never reached Michael Jordan status. Maybe if had broken the homerun record, he would have. Barry Bonds was a loner and never wanted the spotlight like Michael Jordan. In addition Barry Bonds is largely disliked among sports circles, while Michael Jordan is largely beloved. I believe Bo Jackson came the closest to being promoted like Michael Jordan, anyone remember the Bo knows commercials?Nike did an incredible job promoting Bo Jackson when his was playing both in the NFL and MLB, but Jackson got injured in 1991 in a playoff game against Cincinnati Bengals. After that, his career was never the same as he had to retire from the NFL and was never the same MLB player. He would be a solid player for the rest of his career, but would never play in over 100 games in a season again for the rest of his MLB career.If baseball had a black role model in the sport even remotely close to Michael Jordan, maybe the sport could get more blacks to play the sport. If you take a poll on young black men ages 20-40 and ask them, what NBA player you grew up wanting to be like, most of them would say Michael Jordan. Now take a poll among black baseball fans and ask them who they wanted to be like and they might say Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey Jr. While Jordan has been replaced by role models Kobe and Lebron in the NBA, MLB never replaced Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey Jr. when they retried. That is part of the problem in my view and part of the reason I believe MLB is not as popular among blacks.Curtis Granderson said it he likes to count to blacks in the stands just to see how many they are at games. He feels like the black aren’t attending the games the way they attend NFL and NBA games and he is correct.The fact of the matter is, a lot of the black community just isn’t interested in baseball as they are in other sports. It takes a lot of people and money to play baseball. One of my twitter followers told me that kids today are paying $100 for little league and they even have to give some of the equipment as well. For the amount of games and considering that they don’t provide all the equipment that is just wrong.Some football and basketball leagues are cheaper than that or even free.  When you consider that, there is no wonder why the black community prefers their kids to play basketball and football. The fact of the matter is this, a lot of my black friends find baseball boring and don’t want to watch it on TV. A lot of them even ask me why I enjoy baseball so much. Even former girlfriends couldn’t believe that I preferred baseball over basketball.If Jackie Robinson were alive today, he would be very disappointed. Not because of  how much baseball has grown globally, or with the play on the field, but with the lack of African-Americans in the sport.Not too many kids growing up know a lot about Robinson. They may know that he was the first African-American baseball player, but they don’t understand the struggle he had to endure. Everything was against Robinson making it big in the major leagues, not just his skin color. He had to stay at different hotels separate from the rest of the Brooklyn Dodgers players.  He couldn’t eat at the same restaurants after games because he was black. Robinson got shouted every name in the book, but he still remained strong so that not just blacks, but all minorities would have a shot at the big show. Now as we stand in the current day in 2012, it is a struggle to get a black kid to pick up a baseball bat.In April 2012, USA Today found out that the number of African-American baseball players fell to 8.05 percent, less than half of 17.25 percent in 1959, 12 years after Robinson broke the color barrier. In 1975, the number of blacks in Major League Baseball was at 27 percent. Even 17 years ago in 1995, the number was at 19 percent. From 1990 through 1995, nine of 12 National and American League MVP winners were African-American. So, how did we get from 19 percent in 1995, to 8.05 percent in 2012, I believe it isn’t just one reason.In the 1940s and 1950s, baseball was America’s pastime and number one sport, now of course the NFL is number one. The recent growths of the NFL and the NBA in the 1990s are some of the reasons why blacks have decided to pick up a basketball and football instead.The lack of college scholarships in baseball also is a major reason. The numbers say it is easier to get a football scholarship, than a baseball scholarship. Universities offer only an average of 11.7 scholarships, as opposed to 85 in college football.The increasing cost to fund a team in inner cities is a big reason as well. It is cheaper to fund a basketball league than a baseball league. All the reasons that I just gave are valid reasons, but there is a much deeper issue.In an interview, former second baseman Orlando Hudson said  black men don’t think baseball is cool. “I’ve had kids come up to me and ask why I’m playing that white man’s game,’’ said Hudson. There is a problem in the African-American community when we are telling our kids that this is white sport and this is a black sport. It is stupid to associate a sport with the color of someone’s skin. If your kid wants to play baseball, let them play baseball. I had a fellow on Twitter say to me one time, “Tennis is a gay sport, and no black man should play tennis.” Blacks said similar things about golf before Tiger Woods got started, now blacks more and more want to pick up a golf club.The parents for some of these black men are not encouraging them to try new things and sports in the world. They are stuck in this, play basketball, play football shape of thinking. Why not urge your child to try new things? Your child can get a scholarship playing football and basketball as well as playing baseball, tennis, golf, swimming and bowling and yes I said bowling.Maryland Eastern Shores, which is a historical a black university, has won back to back bowling NCAA Championships.http://www.umeshawks.com/sports/w-bowl/mtt/jones_victoria00.htmlNot one black woman is on their team. While I love they won the NCAA Championship in bowling, I would at least like to think we can get one black woman on their team.Some would say, the path to the NFL and NBA money is quicker than it would be in MLB, and maybe that’s why parents are encouraging their kids to play. Yes the path to money, riches and fame is a lot easier, but your children aren’t lottery tickets. Your child is not someone you should depend on to make it out of the hood. You want to make it out of the ghetto, you as the parent do what is necessary to make that happen. You are there to support your child, not the other way around. This is the reasons I believe black athletes go broke in sports. So many people depend on them to make them money. Then when the money is gone, the girls and friends are usually gone as well.Someone said to me on Twitter that I only look at the name on the front of the jersey and color doesn’t matter and yeah he is right. It just saddens me that the number of blacks in MLB is what it is. I love the NBA and NFL, but black youths need to understand that they can make it in life a number of different ways.I’ve been a baseball just about all of my life. I can remember watching the games with my babysitter and him teaching me about the game. I never really liked the Atlanta Braves, but I learned a lot by just watching the game with him. Baseball is my first love and I hope more and more blacks decide to play it. As I’ve always said if I had a son, I would try to talk him into playing baseball. You could have a longer career and get paid more. In addition, you wouldn’t have to worry about brain trauma or injuries later in life. I hope there will be a young Black American that will influence the youth to put down the basketball and football and pick up a baseball bat.You can find Antwan Staley on Twitter @blackredsoxfan. Also find his work at http://blackredsoxfan.wordpress.com/