Maury lists ten reasons why you don’t see ballplayers shilling for as many companies as you do football or basketball players. This one is pretty interesting:
Baseball can rightfully say that it has the most player diversity starting in games than any other US pro sports league. Some of MLB’s biggest stars are Latinos or from the Far East. The problem is television ad execs have yet to see the full potential of such players. A good example is Albert Pujols, someone that should translate well to the camera, but has not been used as a pitchman. Others include Ichiro Suzuki and David Ortiz. In terms of Far East athletes, maybe ad execs figure Yao Ming is enough. As for the Latin players, it seems a vast demographic isn’t being fully tapped.
It does seem rather strange that with the Hispanic demographic growing as quickly as it is in this country that we don’t see more Hispanic ballplayers doing endorsements. And don’t tell me the language barrier is an issue. Michael Jordan’s first dozen Nike and Gatorade commercials consisted of him just looking intense or dunking while Spike Lee or whoever did all the talking.
Maybe a more practical baseball marketing problem: unlike basketball, baseball’s in-game products (shoes, clothes, etc.) aren’t really the kinds of things you’d wear on the street, so the in-action stuff isn’t an option. It’s the sort of thing that leads to Orel Hershisher and those old Pert commercials where he talked about taking five showers a day or whatever it was.
Yeah, those were disturbing.