Editor's Note: Richard Lapchick, a pioneer in racial equality and an expert on sports issues is a human rights activist. He is also a scholar and author.
As many others, I also watched the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking MLB's color barrier. I love the fact that players wear No. 42, and that so many ceremonies were held. It was wonderful to see his beautiful wife Rachel, now 99, and their children and grandchildren represent Jackie at different ceremonies across the country. Jackie Robinson was driven by two goals: to increase the number of Black players on the football field and to have Black managers, coaches, and general managers. His legacy is still felt in sports and society.
Today, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport) has assembled a team.TIDES) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) released the 2022 Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card. Major League Baseball earned an BOn for racial employment and a C+For gender-specific hiring practices, raising the overall grade to an B-.
MLB lost ground on its racial employment record as its racial-hiring grade decreased from 86.8 percent in 2021In 2022, it will be 83.0 percent. MLB's female hiring grade went up from 70.7 percent to 75.3 percentage in 2021, and 75.3 percent to 75.3 in 2022. The combined grade of 78.1 was an increase by 1.1 percentage points over last year.
Rev. Jesse Jackson is the founder and president Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Although Jackie's contribution has been greatly celebrated, it is important to remember that Jackie would also have wanted more Black coaches, managers, and executives in the sport. He passionately expressed his desire that the sport would have more black leaders in one of his last messages before his death. We are still working on that area 50 years later after his passing.
Jackson stated that the report card “provides data and input necessary to build a case against more intentional inclusion.” He stated that Rainbow PUSH Sports, Joseph Bryant (the organization's national director of sports), will “continue their engagement with leaders within the sport industry to improve the shortage of diversity, as well as work to bring Jackie’s fullest potential to life.”
Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, has made bold moves in recent years regarding race. After Georgia passed a new restrictive voting law, MLB moved the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta.
MLB announced a 10-year partnership that would see a record-breaking financial commitment of up $150 million to The Players Alliance. This will begin in 2023. This pledge is the largest in MLB history and is directed at the goal of improving Black diversity in baseball's managerial and coaching positions as well as front office leadership.
The Cleveland Guardians, a club organization that pioneers diversity and inclusion initiatives, is one of the leaders. After the 2021 season, the club changed its name to a more inclusive one. The club's former nickname and Chief Wahoo, the mascot that accompanied it, have been discontinued. This was a long-overdue change, since Native Americans have been protesting its use for nearly 25 year. The team accepted the chance to be more inclusive and created a new identity that truly reflects the city.
There were 33 women in coaching roles at either the minor or major league levels as of the 2022 season. This is the highest number of women in major and minor league baseball history. Alyssa Nagken, San Francisco Giants' coach, became the first woman to ever coach an on-field position during a regular season game. She took to the field following the dismissal of Antoan Richison, first base coach. He claimed that Mike Shildt, San Diego Padres' third-base coach, yelled at him an expletive that had “undertones racism”. Richardson is Black, Shildt white. Progress is balanced by regression.
The commissioner's office continues diversifying its senior executive positions. Ken Griffey Jr. was appointed senior advisor to the commissioner. He will be focusing on increasing diversity at the amateur level of the game through youth baseball development and baseball operations. Karin Timpone was appointed chief marketing officer and executive vice president. She manages global marketing and leads initiatives to grow the next generation. April Brown is the vice president for social responsibilities. Brown's efforts helped to replace the Jackie Robinson Memorial, which was vandalized. She continues MLB's commitment to Rise Against Hunger by supporting those affected by the Haitian earthquake.
Despite decades of programs to increase Black players, the decline in Black players continues to haunt MLB. Black players made up 7.2% of the rosters in 2022, compared to 7.6% in 2021. This is the lowest percentage since 1991, when 18% of MLB player were Black or African American. In 1995, 19% was African American.
The 2022 Opening Day saw 38% of active rosters with 30-man players being made up of players of color. Latinos made up 28.5%. MLB players generally emphasize that baseball is an international sport. There were 275 players from 21 countries and territories on 2022 Opening Day rosters, inactive lists and opening day rosters. We closely monitor who is playing and the key positions of general managers and manager on each team. They are the key decision-makers on the field and the most prominent faces, even if they are not playing for the club.
This season started with six (20%) managers who were of color. Dusty Baker, (Houston Astros) is the only Black manager. Alex Cora (Administrator Latino) is one of four Latino managers.Boston Red Sox), Oliver Marmol, (St. Louis Cardinals), Dave Martinez, (Washington Nationals) and Charlie Montoyo, (Toronto Blue Jays). Los Angeles DodgersManager Dave RobertsHe is the son a Japanese mother, and a Black dad.
Four (13.3%) were of color in the general manager, president or equivalent position for an MLB team. There was one Black person, one Latino and two Asian people. Kim Ng was the Miami Marlins' most important baseball hire, in late 2020. She was the first woman GM of MLB history. In the NBA and NFL, there have never been women GMs. The 2022 season saw 13 women hold on-field coaching or development roles in MLB. Rachel Balkovec was appointed manager of the New York Yankees' Class-A Tampa Tarpons. This year, there has been a lot of attention to her. She is the first woman manager in affiliated baseball.
These two categories show how far teams must go to be inclusive and diverse. Leadership at the top can often reflect the whole organization. This was true in categories such as team senior administration and team vice presidents. Despite some improvements in gender, no category was higher than a C. MLB clubs received a. B-A team professional management, C+Senior team administration CManagers of teams need to be aware that there are many options. C-For team vice presidents, a D+For the team general manager/president baseball operations and FFor team CEO/presidents, and an FMajority ownership. It's not a pretty picture.
TIDES closely monitors the role of activist athletes as the season begins. What will it mean for the hiring practices of each team? It will be a powerful resource for inclusion and diversity. The MLB's pledge to The Players Alliance will support athlete activism in fighting for more front offices positions.
More than half of MLB's financial charitable support in 2021 — $4 million total — went to nonprofit organizations that work with youth and adults to close the racial inequality gap around education, health, and workforce readiness. After George Floyd's murder, the league and clubs supported social justice organizations which are crucial to the continuation of equity work.
I wish Commissioner Manfred, MLB, and the players a great season. In which players don't just wear No. 42. We must move forward to make Major League Baseball an industry leader in diversity initiatives, milestones, and other aspects.
This column was written by Candace Martin, Hannah Nelson, and Molly O'Halloran.
Richard E. Lapchick is an associate professor in the DeVos Sport Business Management Grad Program at the University of Central Florida. Lapchick is also the director of UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. He is also the author of 17 books and an annual Racial and Genre Report Card. He is also the president of UCF's Institute for Sport and Social Justice. His regular commentary on diversity in sport has been for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @richardlapchick, and on Facebook.