Behind The Bases and Balls

By Dr. Richard Lapchick
Updated: April 29, 2010

ORLANDO — Major League Baseball had its best year ever with continued improvement of its record on the issue of racial and gender hiring practices. This remains especially true in the League’s Central Offices and in the positions of manager and general manager where Commissioner Bud Selig has the most direct influence.

Baseball received an A for race and a B for gender in the 2010 Report. In 2009, Baseball received its first ever full A for race and a B for gender after receiving an A- for race and a C+ for gender in the 2008 Report Card.

MLB started the 2010 season with nine managers of color and five general managers of color. The five general managers of color tied the 2009 RGRC’s all-time high for MLB.

These were among the key factors that helped MLB raise its overall grade for race from 91.5 to 92.5 for its second consecutive full A grade for racial hiring practices.

In the 2010 RGRC, MLB increased to 82 points for a B. This gave MLB its best ever combined grade of 87.3 points for a solid B+. Bud Selig has helped make MLB’s central and team front offices look like America.

The Commissioner and his team in the league office that creates programs on diversity have led MLB in a remarkable period of improvement in the last three Racial and Gender Report Cards.

“There are strong records for race in the Commissioner’s office as well as at the levels of manager, coach, general manager and the professional administrators of teams. Baseball received no grade below a B in any category.”

MLB continues to have an outstanding record for Diversity Initiatives which include the fourth annual Civil Rights Game, Jackie Robinson Day and Roberto Clemente Day.

Jackie Robinson’s dream was to see more African-Americans playing, coaching and in the front office. It has been ironic that as the role of people of color dramatically increases regarding who runs the game, African-American players decreased for almost 15 years.

The percent of African-American players decreased to 9.0 percent in 2009, down from 10.2 percent in the 2008 season. This has been a concern of Major League Baseball and leaders in the African-American community.

However, the 40.2 percent also make the playing fields look more like American with its dramatically increasing Latino population.

There is no doubt that the best players are on the field irrespective of their heritage.

We started the RGRC to encourage more diversity in who runs the game. MLB has made great strides in that direction and is now one of the best in sports.