BASN Classic Blackbox: Baseball’s White Umpire Empire

Updated: May 6, 2008


It’s almost time to Play Ball for real. The Rites of Spring. Umpires across the Land will ring out those two magic words to begin another Season. Traditions will reign supreme again. Like the Color of the faces of most of the 68 Major League umpires. It’s a very very old Tradition.

Since our groundbreaking Special Report in the Box two seasons ago, detailing an issue no one else in the sports media has ever explored, about the dearth of African Americans in the umpire ranks Nothing has changed.

There were all of two African American MLB umpires two seasons ago. There will be all of two African American MLB umpires this season. 2 of 68 or less than 3% for the mathematically challenged.

There have been a total of 6 African American MLB umpires in the entire history of MLB baseball including the current two, out of more than 350 umpires in the history of the Major League Game.

There are currently 17 MLB umpire crews working both the National and American Leagues. No Crew has a Black Crew Chief. No African American has ever been a Crew Chief. No African American umpire has ever worked a World Series game even though there are 6 umpires for WS games.

The two current African American MLB umpires are Chuck Meriwether and Kerwin Danley. Of the 68 there is also one Mexican, one Jamaican and one Cuban. All the rest Lily White. There is even a white father-son team and two white brothers who are MLB umpires but just two African Americans.

The entire umpire “empire” is Racist. Among the 11MLB executives in the Umpire Division there is not even one African American. There are just two umpire “schools” that are accredited to train umpires that will be considered for the MLB.

When we investigated we found that of a total of 51 individuals employed by both Schools as executives and instructors there was not even one Black American. Total staffs of 51 individuals preparing future MLB umpires and ZERO African Americans working at the two Schools.

There is one more element an ‘independent’ association which officially oversees and rates the performance of minor league and college umpires. Those ratings play a major role in the selection process. Just one lower tier member of the association’s staff is African American.

Neither MLB Players Union chief Donald Fehr or MLB Commissioner Bud Selig have ever addressed the issue of discrimination against African Americans in umpiring. Baseball operates as though there is no problem and the current “system” (sic) insures nothing will Change.

Selection of Black MLB umpires will continue to be very very very rare. Your chances of going to or watching an MLB game and seeing a Black umpire is less than 1 in 15.

Further keep in mind umpiring is a skill that can be learned by any sports minded individual who is motivated. MLB umpires make between $100,000 – $300,000 a year plus lots of expense money and work all of about 6 months a year. If they work the post season they are further compensated.

IF MLB made an effort and if the union forced the issue there would be major changes in the structure of the umpire operation in Major League Baseball.

And there is no doubt if Baseball made a decision to begin a program to add just one dozen a measly 12 African American MLB umpires to their total of 68 over the next 3-4 years there would be a huge number of applicants for the program.

But in reality no one is doing Anything. MLB umpiring amounts to a very private “closed club” which has always made itself very unattractive for African Americans. There is nothing on the Horizon that will change this situation.

It amounts to the single most blatant case of out and out Discrimination in American sports today.

Case Closed.