Aaron Heralds MLB’s Opportunities for Minorities

Mark Bowman, mlb.com, April 20, 2011

Hank Aaron and Jimmie Lee Solomon have spent countless hours and developed numerous theories in their search to determine why it has been difficult to persuade more African-American children to dream of playing in the Major Leagues.

{snip} Aaron and Solomon want to expose more African-Americans to the employment opportunities provided by baseball beyond those who have the special ability to play the game at its highest levels.

“There are so many other ways to make a very good living in the game of baseball,” said Solomon, who serves as Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations. “It can provide you so many successes in society if you just avail yourself to it.”

This was the prevailing message conveyed during a symposium staged Tuesday evening at Morehouse College’s School of Medicine for students from Atlanta’s historically black colleges. MLB will coordinate many more similar events over the coming weeks leading up to this year’s Civil Rights Game, which will be pit the Phillies against the Braves at Turner Field on May 15.

{snip}

Aaron and Solomon addressed the students via a panel discussion that also included Andrew Young, a civil rights activist and formerly Atlanta’s mayor and the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

At the heart of all of the activities surrounding the Civil Rights Game is baseball’s rich history with African-Americans and other minorities.

{snip}

“I just would like to see more communication between professional baseball and African-Americans because we paid the price,” Aaron said. “We paid our dues.”

As they continue to attempt to revive the game in this country’s urban areas, Aaron and Solomon also are committed to reminding young African-Americans that they can thrive in Major League Baseball as a player, umpire, broadcaster, trainer, front-office executive or any other position that interests them.

{snip}


The percentage of black players in the major leagues dropped again on Opening Day this year even as the sport again received a top overall grade for racial diversity.

Baseball’s grade for gender hiring declined slightly, according to the annual study released Thursday by Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.

Baseball received an A for racial diversity in hiring, the same grade as last year, and a B-minus for gender, down from a B. Its overall grade remained a B-plus.

{snip}

The percentage of black players dropped to 8.5 percent on Opening Day this year, down from 9.1 percent at the start of last season and its lowest level since 2007. The percentage of Latino players dropped from 28.4 percent to 27 percent–baseball’s lowest since 1999’s 26 percent.

“This has been a concern of Major League Baseball and leaders in the African-American community,” Lapchick said. “However, the 38.3 percent of players who are people of color also make the playing fields look more like America with its large Latino population.”

{snip}

The number of black and Latino managers dropped from 10 at the start of the 2010 season to six, and the percentage of black and Latino coaches dropped from 31 to 29 percent. No blacks were team chief executives or presidents and only Houston Astros president of business Pam Gardner fell into that category.

Black and Latino general managers dropped from five to four, and at the team vice president level percentages declined for blacks (9.8 percent last year) and women (18.2 percent). For the VP level, teams received a C to C-plus for racial diversity and an F for gender diversity.

{snip}

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  • Question Diversity

    We get the same stories with almost the same wording at the same time every year, depending on which sports’ season it is, from this Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. I’m starting to wonder if the “Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports” isn’t anything more than Richard Lapchick and his fax machine.

    Judging from blacks’ (aka “African-American,” not Hispanic Afro-Caribbean) interest in baseball, (not as high as it used to be), and their proportion of the population, 8.5% blacks in the MLB this season might actually be somewhat and disproportionately high. It’s only because the NBA is 70% black (circa) and the NFL is a bit less, does the MLB’s 8.5% black seem paltry.

  • Hands Off Our White Privilege!

    When he gives up, look for him to attack golf and tennis, which are still too overwhelmingly White. Tiger, Serena and Venus aren’t enough, and because we can only name three, proves that “we still have more work to do”.

    Look for the race hustlers to start attacking private golf and tennis clubs for not reaching out to the “community of color” with more benefits and programs designed “to close the shocking disparity between Whites having fun in all White environments and the blacks who are here to bring vibrant and enriching diversity to the country clubs”.

  • charles

    When one will consider that many black susually go for other sports such as basketball and football that of course will lessen the black pool in baseball. Numbers don’t lie and baseball is of course becoming less black and white as well with South American players becoming a majority slowly but surely.

  • Boethius

    So much for MLB’s vaunted RBI (return baseball to the inner city) program. Now we’re all supposed to feel guilty because black kids don’t like baseball.

  • Seneca the Younger

    If you add the black Caribbean players the percentage would be about 15%. That seems pretty accurate at representing their population.

    Will these guys talk to whites about their lack of representation in basketball? How about the Asians in pretty much every sport?

    These people are delusional. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

    Is it a national emergency that black kids do not want to play baseball as much anymore? Really, is it?

  • sbuffalonative

    “This has been a concern of Major League Baseball and leaders in the African-American community,” Lapchick said. “However, the 38.3 percent of players who are people of color also make the playing fields look more like America with its large Latino population.”

    Blacks are major proponents of diversity. They have no one to blame but themselves.

  • Anonymous

    This issue is only relevant to two groups:

    1-Black ex-baseball players trying to get some focus.

    2-Diversity mongers in need of something to moan about.

  • john

    I.’m not sure I get this. Baseball players of black African ancestry seem to be at about the same level since I was a kid, some four to five decades ago.

    Even back then many of them were from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and various other Caribbean nations, as they still are.

    I suspect someone’s either wilfully, or through statistical incompetence, trying to create a nonsense issue here.

  • anonymous

    Kids have to go into baseball. They have to take the risk that they may play for years in the minors league without ever making the majors. I don’t think this option is very attractive compared to the appeal of being a scholarship athlete even at a second tier school.

    Probably, MLB will give a good athlete a chance in the low minors with little or even no baseball experience. There few taker even though there is an possible opportunity there particularly for someone who may not qualify for college even as a athletic admission. If the kids don’t want to go into baseball, nothing is going to change this picture.

  • Anonymous

    I could go the rest of my life without seeing another black and be happy. Are there any all white teams for which I could root?

  • olewhitelady

    On the one hand, white liberals and many blacks decry the image of blacks as being skilled in brawny pursuits, and then, on the other hand, complain that there aren’t enough blacks in these same brawny pursuits!

    It always seemed to me that most of the blacks in MLB were not ghetto types, like most appear to be in the NBA. There would certainly be more opportunity to learn basketball in the ghetto streets than there would be to learn baseball. Caribbean players, of any ethnicity, would have year-around opportunities to practice and probably even encouragement from their societies. Japanese participation has also grown over the years. If American blacks keep falling in their percentages, it could be that they’re being bested by foreign-born players.

  • zizlack

    I dont think the game really appeals to blacks,,its just not ghetto enough for them. They seem to prefer to celebrate every routine play with chest thumping, taunting and the general “look at me” antics. In baseball that behavior will get you a fastball in the ribs at your next at bat.