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Rob Parker, Founder and Editor of and co-host of Fox Sports Radio “The Odd Couple” was one of seven inductees into the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Hall of Fame in Birmingham last Friday as part of the NABJ’s Convention and Career Fair.

Covering Black and Brown major leaguers, MLBBro chronicles the paths of both present and past Black players, highlighting their achievements in the game right now and from a historical standpoint.

The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Rob (he said I could call him that) about his unparalleled career, his recent honor, and making sure the contributions of Black baseball players are never forgotten.

After attending the NABJ for 35 years, Rob reflected, “I’m inspired every time I leave.”

“It was amazing. It really was one of those moments you’ll never forget.” Rob Parker

“I’ve been going since 1988, that’s a long time ago and I still always leave inspired,” said Rob. “You see people who are working in the industry and doing things to make change — it’s all encompassing. It’s great.”

Pictured: FOX Sports Radio’s Rob Parker accepts his NABJ Hall of Fame honor at the NABJ Hall of Fame Induction and Luncheon at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Ala.

In 1993, Parker was the first African American beat writer to cover the Cincinnati Reds for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He was also an award-winning sports columnist at The Detroit News for nine years. In Detroit, Parker had a long-running radio show, “Sports Night with Parker and The Man.” On TV, he worked for WDIV Local 4 for 20 years as an analyst and fill-in anchor.

Though an acclaimed and accomplished journalist, the humble New Yorker says it was his Big Apple childhood that shaped a lifelong love for the baseball diamond. “Baseball was bigger than the NFL because of the Yankees and the Mets history and all the great players who have played there.”

“If you look at the list of some of the greatest players ever there’s a ton of Black players because baseball is our game,” Rob affirmed.

MLBBro gives Black players a voice and put a context to their presence in the game. In the process, they display the culture and flair Black players bring to the table.

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“Black baseball players are often underrepresented, [sometimes] they may get covered, but not as much.” Rob explained, “We often don’t know their back story or where they come from. I didn’t want people to not know who these players are or secondly, forget about the great Black players of our national pastime.”

“Baseball is a part of our fabric. I don’t care what anybody says.” Rob Parker.

Rob Parker’s career started with a bang. At 22, he was a full-time sportswriter at the Daily News in New York. Along the way, he was a trailblazer, becoming the first African American sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press (1993) and at Newsday in New York (1995).

“Obviously, I admire Hank Aarons and Willie Mayes. I grew up in New York when Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden came on the scene, both home-grown from the minor leagues, and became big-time stars. You didn’t even need to use their full names in New York, it was ‘Doc and Darryl.’ Back in those days the Mets were getting more back pages than the Yankees. That’s how big they were and how much Black people embraced them.”

Though sports are now often considered safe spaces for community and equality, Rob remembers the days when being more than an athlete wasn’t so popular.

Photo Courtesy: Jet Magazine.

“Jet Magazine used to cover Black players in the major leagues each season so that you could follow who’s who.” Rob mentioned, “And that’s kind of what MLBBro does. It allows you to check out videos or written stories about who these guys are and what they’re doing every day.”

At WXYZ TV, Parker was the 10 p.m. sports anchor in 2016. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Southern Connecticut State University and went on to receive a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. In 2018, he was named National Association of Black Journalists Sports Journalist of the Year.

San Francisco Giants Willie Mays poses in 1967. (AP Photo)

Rob sees the light at the end of the tunnel for Black baseball players

Since the dominating days of Willie Hayes an annual study has reviewed diversity hiring for Major League Baseball. It reported a record low of Black players on opening day rosters for the second straight year.

The June report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida issued an overall grade of C-plus, with a B for racial hiring and a C for gender hiring. 

Asked what he attributes to the lack of Black players in the MLB, Rob added, “I think we lose sight that we’re not the number one minority in the United States.” He explained, “Major League Baseball held academies in Latin America to train kids and you reap what you sow, now a lot of those kids from the Latin American countries have made major inroads,” Rob stated.

“We also have another thing that works against us, in the AAU realm, these coaches have stopped players from playing multiple sports.”

Rob furthered, “Before that, all the greatest Black athletes played more than one sport, but now they want you to just play football. Just play basketball. So a lot of these guys who used to play baseball were forced not to play.”

He concluded, “Even in high school, they wouldn’t allow you to play on more than one team. And I think they’ve done a disservice. And obviously if you’re a kid and you say, ‘I could play high school basketball and maybe get into the NBA in one year’ but in baseball, you gotta go to the minor leagues.”

Rob says the number of Black minor leaguers is indicative of a major growing trend.

“There are a ton of Black players in the minor leagues, MLB has done things over the last 10 years to try to address the disparity. At last year’s MLB draft, three of the top five players drafted were Black, that was the first time in the history of baseball. So those are very good signs.”

Though a lover of the game who originally opposed the idea of an automated pitch clock (introduced his season), Parker now says he sees the innovation’s benefit has outpaced his earlier skepticism. “I must admit it has been good for the pace of the game, which has shaved off 30 minutes on average.”

He continued, “TV viewership is also up big time. Baseball attendance is up by 10 percent and you’re seeing some of the biggest crowds since 1998. That speaks volumes of where the game is growing and where it’s going.”

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Realizing the game on and off the diamond is bigger than himself, Rob explains, “My goal along with promoting Black players in the league is also to develop the next generation of Black baseball writers, broadcasters, content creators, and editors.”

“I have over 60 people, a lot of young Black men and women covering the MLB in what I believe is the greatest staff of Black sports writers ever assembled. We’ve never had anywhere near this amount to cover any sport — let alone baseball — but any sport. I’m very proud of that.”

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“Major League Baseball is an $11 billion industry. It can do whatever it wants, but for MLB to decide they wanted to partner with us might be the greatest moment in my career,” said Rob.

“They understood what we brought to the game and how important it is and that they wanted to be a part of it. We’re now on MLB Network, our stuff is on Some of our writers write for them as well,” explained Rob. “It’s a beautiful partnership.”

“The response has been incredible to the site, from fans, from players, from other people in the media who see what we’re doing, “It’s groundbreaking.”

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Parker joined FOX Sports Radio in March 2018 to host “The Odd Couple” with Chris Broussard on Sundays, and in just six months, the show has since been promoted to a weekday timeslot.

Parker also hosts “Inside the (Rob) Parker Podcast,” a baseball-themed podcast on the FOX Sports Radio Podcast Network, and is an adjunct professor at USC.

Fans can follow @RobParkerMLBBro on X and Instagram.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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