MLB Building ‘Pipeline of Qualified Diversity Candidates,’ MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Says

On the same day Torii Hunter retired, prompting a tweet from former teammate LaTroy Hawkins about the paucity of blacks in major league baseball, Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke of increasing black representation in MLB’s bureaucracy.

On Monday night, Hawkins, who had stated he would retire when the season was over, and thus was done when his Toronto Blue Jays were eliminated, responded to a tweet from a fan joking, “Did baseball’s black population just drop, like, 50 pct?” Hawkins tweeted:

Monday morning, Manfred appeared on the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN Radio, asserting that minorities should be trained for entry-level jobs in MLB so they can rise through the ranks. He said:

 I think it starts with respect to entry-level jobs. We’ve been engaging with the clubs as they go through the fall and begin to rebuild front offices—there’s various people moving around and get promoted—that there needs to be significant minority representation at entry-level jobs. And the reason I think those entry-level jobs are so important is it helps us build a pipeline of qualified diversity candidates—male, female, African-American, Latino—who are available to interview for top jobs. I don’t think you can just start at the top.

Manfred acknowledged that MLB and executive search firm Korn Ferry work with minorities to “make sure they’re as well prepared as possible” for the interview process so the “pipeline” of minorities can grow. He added, “The goal, after all, is not to get minorities an interview; the goal is to get them a job. So we’re going to try to expand our program over the offseason. We’re committed to this, and you’ll see progress on this issue over the long haul.”

The only black manager in MLB, Lloyd McClendon of the Seattle Mariners, was fired after the regular season; the only Latino manager remains the Atlanta Braves’ Fredi Gonzalez. MLB has had at least one black manager every year since 1987; in April 1999, then-commissioner Bud Selig stated that teams needed to consider minorities when hiring a manager, general manager, assistant GM, director of player development, or director of scouting.

Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, authored a study called the 2015 MLB Racial and Gender Report Card that examined the utilization of minorities in baseball, and found MLB reached a score of 90.4 for racial hiring practices. While stating “the percentage of African-American baseball players in MLB increased by 0.1 of a percentage point, from the all time low of 8.2 percent recorded in 2014,” the study also asserted that “the 41.2 percent of players who were people of color also make the playing fields look more like America, with its large Latino population. Latino players saw a slight increase from 28.4 percent in 2014 to 29.3 percent of all baseball players for the 2015 season.”

The study also examined the bureaucracy in MLB, and concluded, “There was a decrease in the percentage of people of color as managers, coaches, team senior administrators, and in the League Office while there was an increase in the percentage of people of color in the team professional administrator positions and in the general manager position.”

Manfred referred to the Selig rule on Monday, saying. “I think the Selig rule for us and the Rooney rule for football are important pieces of the puzzle. And we’re committed to the idea that minority interviews are important, and we’ll continue to require the clubs to do it.”


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