How Global is U.S. Major League Baseball? A Historical and Geographic Perspective

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This article explores the globalization of U. S. Major League Baseball (MLB), measured by the participation of foreign-born players in the sport from 1876 to 2005. Data show that the number of non-native athletes has been increasing since the end of World War II, suggesting that MLB is becoming a more globalized organization. An investigation at regional and country levels reveals that most foreign participants in the 1990s and early 21st century are from Latin America, especially the Dominican Republic. In contrast, most African, European, and Asian countries have shown little sign of participation. This implies that the global reach of MLB is limited. An empirical study of 2005 data suggests that prosperous countries, neighboring countries, or countries having a close political relationship with the U. S. tend to provide more athletes to MLB. In other words, the globalization of MLB is reliant on America's economic, cultural, and geographic proximity to the rest of the world.