Rosenthal: MLB’s push for diversity goes beyond numbers

From Ken Rosenthal at on February 28, 2014, with mention of SABR member Mark Armour:

The percentage — everyone talks about the percentage.

The percentage always draws attention in April, when the number of African-Americans on Opening Day MLB rosters is revealed. Last season the percentage was 8.5, or 64 out of 750. It does not figure to be dramatically different this season, prompting the usual, “Why is this happening?” handwringing for a day or two. After that, everyone will forget about the percentage until next year.

Well, almost everyone.

Baseball is not happy with the percentage. Baseball wants to do something about the percentage. And the people trying to increase the percentage — those involved with the sport’€™s On-Field Diversity Task Force, Urban Youth Academies and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program (RBI) — are seeing progress at the grassroots level, tangible progress.

The next significant development will be the expansion of the annual Breakthrough Series, a showcase created by MLB and USA Baseball for top high-school players, many of them African-American. The series previously took place at one location. Now it will take place at four.

Approximately 200 players, the most since the inception of the event in 2008, will perform in front of professional scouts and college recruiters from July 19 to 28 in Cincinnati, Compton, Calif., Bradenton, Fla., and Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Originally published: February 28, 2014. Last Updated: February 28, 2014.