Kepner: MLB report highlights sobering number of black players

From Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on April 10, 2014, with mention of SABR members Dave Dombrowski and Mark Armour:

Dave Dombrowski is the head of baseball’s on-field diversity task force, but he is also the president of the Detroit Tigers. In the last year, as he studied ways to give better opportunities to African-Americans, Dombrowski realized the challenge demanded more than a committee of experts with day jobs.

“There’s so much involved in this, you need someone to focus on it daily,” Dombrowski said. “Someone to call the people in Birmingham or Los Angeles, someone to travel to Texas and coordinate those plans, someone to tackle these issues every day.”

For Major League Baseball, that someone is Jerry Manuel, a former manager of the Mets and the Chicago White Sox. Manuel, 60, has turned his attention to a complex issue that Commissioner Bud Selig has made a priority as he prepares to retire after the season.

“We’re going to have a place to play, keep them interested, keep them excited and stay with them until they get through,” Manuel, who is African-American, said, referring to young black players. “Baseball is a beautiful, healthy game, and it’s a game that, historically, we have been a big, big part of. We’re trying to connect back with that.”

In recent years, the numbers have been sobering. According to the league, only 8.3 percent of players on 2014 opening day rosters identified themselves as African-American or black. The highest percentage of African-Americans in the majors, according to research by Mark Armour of the Society of American Baseball Research, was 19 percent in 1986.


Read the full article here:

Related link: Read “Baseball Demographics, 1947-2012” by Mark Armour and Dan Levitt

Originally published: April 11, 2014. Last Updated: April 11, 2014.