In Baltimore and around the country spring marks the opening of baseball season. This week the season is also marked by the opening of the movie “42,” the story of Jackie Robinson’s historic entry into major league baseball. The late Afro sportswriter Sam Lacy is not in the movie, but he played an integral role in helping Black baseball players cope with the pressures of playing major league baseball and the racism of the day.

On major league baseball’s opening day this year, only 8.5 percent of the players on the 25-man rosters were African-American. Several teams, including the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, had none. The highest percentage of African-Americans playing in the majors, according to new research by Mark Armour from the Society of American Baseball Research, was 19 percent in 1986.