Latinos Are Saving Our National Pastime,1 Bat Flip At A Time

  • by , Columnist, August 25, 2021

Our national pastime has been in a slump. According to a January 2021 piece by the Daily Trojan:

  • Baseball attendance has declined from a peak of 78 million fans in 2008 to 68 million in 2019.
  • Average viewership for the World Series has declined from 44.2 million in 1978 to a record low 9.80 million in 2020. 
  • Baseball fans are also the oldest among major American sports. The average viewer of nationally televised MLB games is 57 years old.

The pre-COVID decline in baseball is certainly something baseball executives have been worried about, but baseball fans have a two-out rally to cheer about, thanks in large part to the positive impact Latino players and fans are having on the game.

According to Forbes, the pandemic-shortened 2020 season saw growth among women and Hispanic viewers in the younger age ranges.  Hispanic baseball viewership alone was up 77% compared with the 2019 average.

Latinos are making baseball more fun



The staggering growth in Hispanic fandom of baseball is not really all that surprising. On the one hand, Hispanics are most likely to be baseball fans when compared to other ethnic groups. Based on data from Statista, 60% of Hispanics are “casual” or “avid” baseball fans, compared to 58% of Whites and 46% of African Americans.

In addition, Latino baseball players are having a major impact on the game in terms of their sheer numbers -- and, perhaps most importantly, the way they play the game, bringing their own swagger, passion and emotion.

From 1991 to 2015, the number of Latino players in MLB have skyrocketed from 14% of the total to 32%, according to Infogram.  If you go to any MLB  game today, you will see many Latino players on the field, see many accents on names on the scoreboard, hear Spanish language “walk-up music” -- and feel the raw emotion such players bring to the game.

Of the top 20 best-selling MLB jerseys entering the 2021 season, eight are worn by Latino players. What’s more, Latino players are good! 31 of the top 100 MLB players are Latino according to MLB network, and Dominican-born Fernando Tatis Junior has emerged as the face of baseball.

Although the growth of Latino fans and players has been key to the resurgence of baseball, what’s really behind the increased popularity of the sport is culture.  Latinos are making baseball more fun.  This, in turn, not only drives more Latino fandom for our national pastime, but also attracts younger non-Hispanics who are critical for the long-term growth of the game.

For marketers looking to drive growth, learn from the example of Latinos saving our national pastime, and apply those learnings to your business.

When you do and succeed, I invite you to celebrate with a bat flip of your own. That will be fun!

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