Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson still sees the impact of her father, Jackie Robinson, as the percentage of African-American players in MLB slightly increased this year. (KATHY WILLENS/AP)

Sharon Robinson the daughter of iconic baseball figure Jackie Robinson‘s daughter revealed that she thinks black baseball players are more reluctant to speak publicly about racial issues than their NFL and NBA colleagues because they constitute a lower percentage of rosters.

She spoke at Citi Field on Sunday to mark Jackie Robinson Day, the 71st anniversary of her father breaking Major League Baseball‘s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“I don’t think they have much choice,” Sharon Robinson said. “They are in the minority and where in football and basketball you have a group and therefore you can take a group action. So players if they speak out individually, they could be the only African-American player on their team and it could be a difficult spot for them to be in.”

The percentage of black players from the United States and Canada on opening-day active rosters rose to 8.4 percent, up from 7.7 last year and its highest level since at least 2012.

“It’s definitely a small representation at this level,” Pittsburgh All-Star second baseman Josh Harrison said. “For younger guys coming up, if guys with 10 years or so in this league haven’t really done much, you lean on those guys for advice. If you don’t have anybody telling you one way or the other, you’ll keep your mouth shut. You don’t want to ruffle any feathers. If you don’t have anybody to help you in that regard, you’ll see a lot of guys be quiet.”

“Guys feel it’s a lose-lose situation for them,” Harrison said. “It sucks because you want to have a voice, but some people feel they can’t.”

Sharon Robinson said action among African-American players is more an individual undertaking.

“They do it around their involvement in community themselves, and talk about why that’s important,” she said.

“Part of the protest with the NFL or the NBA is how do we funnel some of these proceeds from the games, where we’re helping to bring these proceeds, and funnel them into the African-American community? So some of the baseball players do that through their own charities or their own work within communities that they’re playing (in).”