Recognizing that it may take more than just fixing up some inner-city baseball fields to attract minorities to the sport, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a task force to address the lack of diversity in professional baseball.
There are plenty of areas where folks other than white men are underrepresented: there’s certainly a shortage of women and racial minorities throughout management of baseball at all levels. (Take, for example, the Low Class A Midwest League, which saw the hiring of the first African-American GM only this season.)
“As a social institution, Major League Baseball has an enormous social responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all people, both on and off the field,” Selig said. “I am proud of the work we have done thus far with the RBI program and the MLB Urban Youth Academies, but there is more that we must accomplish. We have seen a number of successful efforts with existing MLB task forces, and I believe we have selected the right people to effectively address the many factors associated with diversity in baseball.”
Members of the Commissioner’s On-Field Diversity Task Force include:
- Stuart Sternberg – Principal Owner, Tampa Bay Rays; MLB Diversity Oversight Committee Chairman
- Dave Dombrowski – President, Chief Executive Officer & General Manager, Detroit Tigers; On-Field Diversity Task Force Chairman
- Tom Brasuell – MLB Vice President of Community Affairs (representing Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities)
- Roger Cador – Baseball Head Coach, Southern University (Historically Black College & University)
- Tony Clark – Director of Player Services, Major League Baseball Players Association
- Larry Dolan – Cleveland Indians; MLB Diversity Oversight Committee Advisor
- Dennis Gilbert – Special Assistant to Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf
- Derrick Hall – President & Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Wendy Lewis – MLB Senior Vice President of Diversity & Strategic Alliances
- Jerry Manuel – MLB Network Analyst; Major League Manager (1998-2003; 2008-2010); 2000 A.L. Manager of the Year
- Frank Marcos – Senior Director, MLB Scouting Bureau
- Jonathan Mariner – MLB Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
- Darrell Miller – MLB Vice President of Youth & Facility Development (representing MLB Urban Youth Academy)
- Bernard Muir – Athletic Director, Stanford University
- Kim Ng – MLB Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations
- Pat O’Conner – President & Chief Executive Officer, Minor League Baseball
- Frank Robinson – Hall of Famer; MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Development
- Ken Williams – Executive Vice President, Chicago White Sox
According to the Player Diversity Report (released on 11/13/12), the diversity of the Player Profile on 40-Man Major League rosters was 62% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic, 8% African-American, 1% Asian, and 0.2% Native American. And according to MLB records, which is a collection of data compiled by the clubs, the percentage of players on 2013 Opening Day, 25-Man Major League rosters who identified themselves as African-American or black was approximately 8.5%, which is in a consistent range with the past few years. The first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft featured the selections of seven African-American players, the most by total and percentage (7-of-31, 22.6%) since 1992.
The issue is much larger than just roster spots, however. There is certainly is a glass ceiling in both MLB and MiLB: women and minorities are seriously underrepresented in front offices as well. This task force is a good first effort, but the real test will be in any recommendations coming down the pike. To their credit, Selig and MiLB President Pat O’Conner have publicly acknowledged the problem; we’ll see how it is addressed.
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