There is debate about when the peak presence of African Americans in Major League Baseball occurred. Some reports claim African Americans made up 27 percent of MLB rosters in 1975, while a 2016 Society for American Baseball Research study puts the high mark at 18.7 percent in 1981.

One fact that baseball historians do not debate is the dramatic decline in the number of African Americans in MLB the past three decades. From 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke MLB's color barrier, to the 1980s, the numbers mostly increased. Since then, it has gone the other way with only 6.7 percent of MLB players being African American in 2016. That's the same percentage as in 1956, the year of the Montgomery bus boycott.

There are reasons for the dip, such as the high price of travel ball, limited resources in inner cities and a lack of instructors and mentors. During this year's MLB All-Star Game Week, ThePostGame spoke with multiple former African-American stars from the 1980s and 1990s heyday for African American players. Below are some of the most powerful quotes:

Darryl Strawberry:

"Basketball's weak. Anybody can shoot the ball and get tennis shoes and jersey deals, but go out there and find yourself looking at Nolan Ryan, and you got to face him and how can you turn on the fastball? That's very difficult."

"You had tons of African American players playing on each team that was really making a statement in fashion about baseball and it was cool to play baseball. I think a lot of times, people don't really how cool it was to watch all these guys play."

"Baseball needs to do more. I know they talk about it, but they need to do more. They need to build academies in America and let kids learn to play in the academies and let kids grow in the inner cities."

"If you show them some histories of your highlights, they'll see these guys were cool, these guys were real, but if they don't see that, they don't know."

Andre Dawson:

"The game got to be a lot commodity, especially in the urban cities and that's something we're trying to restore. Major League Baseball is really taking on drastic measures to rebuild, recreate playing facilities and environments conducive for the kids. And that's just to start. I think getting them back out to ballgames, getting the leaders in the communities more inclined to go out and teach these kids the game. Football and basketball have seemed to take a precedent, but that's where we are, where we're trying to get is still probably a ways off, but we're definitely working in a positive direction."

Gary Sheffield:

"We had a lot of African Americans playing when I played in. It was close to 40 percent, 30 percent and just the fact it's going down is attributed to travel ball because it eliminates kids from playing in their Little League. I see a lot of times, with kids, he'll go play in his travel game as opposed to his Little League game, so it suffers. What that does is it alienates us because we don't have the money to do that. Kids in the inner city don't have the money to travel. They don't have the money to buy those bats and gloves."

"You want these kids to be in organized ball just like everybody else and being seen by the same scouts and that's the key to it all, not just getting out and playing, but giving them an opportunity to make it."

Frank Thomas:

"We don't want all the African-American kids just playing basketball and football. They need to really reach out to baseball because athletes are gifted. It's fast, speed, hand-eye coordination. Baseball is a longevity situation."

Jerry Manuel:

"They brought a special flair that was carried from the Hank Aarons, the Willie Mays and those types of guys, that kept our game to where people like Michael Jordan wanted to play. Deion Sanders played."

Jerry Lorenzo Manuel:

"From Barry Bonds and his one earring to Delino DeShields, who was the first guy to wear high socks and the first guy to wear high-top cleats and Darryl Strawberry with his white All-Star cleats and Ozzie Smith flipping on the field and Deion Sanders cutting his sleeves. It was all these intangibles that African-American players brought to the game of baseball."

Strawberry, Dawson, Sheffield, Manuel and Lorenzo Manuel spoke with ThePostGame at a New Era and Fear of God pop-up event in Miami Beach the day before this year's MLB All-Star Game. The two brands, the latter of which was co-founded by Lorenzo Manuel, collaborated to develop special hats as a tribute to African-American All-Stars from 1981-2000. The New Era Cap Foundation donated $200,000 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation as part of the event. Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield were also honored.

Frank Thomas talked with ThePostGame that same week while promoting was of his partners, TuneIn.

Max Goodman contributed to this report.

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