Quality vs. quantity in college baseball

Fred Jeter | 5/18/2019, 6 a.m.
If readers can’t find many articles about black college baseball players in Virginia, there’s a good reason why.

If readers can’t find many articles about black college baseball players in Virginia, there’s a good reason why.

There are few African-American players to write about.       

If you add up all the black players at Virginia’s NCAA Division I schools, you’d barely collect enough to make a single lineup.

This isn’t startling news. On the major league level, only about 10 percent of players are African-American, born in the United States.

Trickling down to the college level, it’s less than 5 percent — not much different than such “suburban sports” teams as golf, tennis, soccer, lacrosse and swimming.

Several of Virginia’s Division I schools have no black players on their approximate 30-man rosters. The exceptions would be HBCU Norfolk State University and outlier Longwood University in Farmville.

Despite a lack of quantity, there is no lack of quality among black athletes gracing the college ballyards.

Here’s a look at a few black players as conference tournaments near.

Alsander Womack (Norfolk State University): The son of former big leaguer Tony Womack ranks with the MEAC’s most dominant performers. Through games of May 10, the 210-pound sophomore second baseman from Charlotte was hitting .394, with two homers, 10 doubles, 29 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases.

Like father, like son. Tony Womack, a Danville native, played in the majors for 13 seasons and was a member of the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

Brandon Henson (Virginia Commonwealth University): The fleet outfielder from Ohio adds plenty of pop to the Rams’ lineup. Starting about half the games, Henson was hitting .289, with five homers, five doubles and a triple, with 15 RBI. His five homers came in just 97 at bats; by contrast, team homerun leader Zac Ching has six homers in 208 at bats.

Before transferring to VCU, Henson set the career homer record at Sinclair College in Ohio.

Anthony Forte (University of Richmond): The left-handed swinging junior outfielder from Illinois is power personified for the Spiders. At 6-foot-2, 210-pounds, Forte leads UR with 10 homers and 46 RBI. He also has 13 doubles, a triple and has been walked 30 times.

Cayman Richardson (University of Virginia): The versatile junior arrived in Charlottesville with glowing credentials. He helped Hanover High School to three straight state championships and was a first team, All-State shortstop as a senior.

For U.Va., Richardson splits time between the infield and outfield while hitting .264 with 12 doubles.

Jonah Seagears (Virginia Tech): From Gainesville, Fla., the freshman infielder chose baseball over football after having options in each. At Battlefield High School, he was an All-Region wide receiver, defensive back and punt returner.

In 29 baseball games for Tech, including 10 starts, he is hitting .250 and promises to be a bona fide stolen base threat.

Trevon Dabney (James Madison University): The freshman third baseman from Douglassville, Pa., needed no rookie internship in Harrisonburg. Offering power plus speed, Dabney is among the Dukes’ leaders in average (.305), homers (six), RBI (24), stolen bases (12) and in the dubious category of being hit by a pitch — 20 times.

Brady Acker (George Mason University): The senior outfielder from Columbia, Md., is a four-season regular. Acker’s stats include a .291 average, six homers, 10 doubles, 17 RBI and 7-for-7 in stolen bases.

Antwaun Tucker (Longwood University): The talented shortstop from Chase City has some impressive bloodlines that flow through Farmville. His uncle is former Lancer Michael Tucker, who played 17 seasons in the big leagues after being a first round draft choice in 1992.

Tucker is living up to the family name. He is hitting .296, has 12 steals in 12 tries and is among the career leaders with 11 triples.

Another Lancer with big league history is pitcher Pedro Astacio Jr., son of former big league hurler Pedro Astacio Sr.

In all, Longwood has seven players of color, by far the most in the state, other than Norfolk State University.

History lesson: The list of African-American big league players coming through Virginia colleges is short, but impressive. The group includes Franklin Stubbs (Virginia Tech), Al Bumbry (Virginia State University), Brian Jordan (UR) and Larry Doby (Virginia Union University).

Doby, who became the American League’s first black player in 1947, attended VUU in the early 1940s. He played Panthers basketball, however, not baseball.