By KYLE HIGHTOWER
ORLANDO — Major League Baseball maintained its grades for its racial and gender hiring practices, while its percentage of African-American players remained only slightly above a study’s low set in the 2007 season.
The annual report issued Wednesday by Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida gave MLB an A grade in racial hiring and C in gender hiring.
The rosters on opening day featured 8.3 percent of players who identified as African-American, a slight increase from 8.2 percent last year, which equaled the study low set in 2007. It has not been 10 percent since 2002.
MLB managers identifying as a racial minority dropped 10 percentage points from 16.7 percent (five total) in 2014 to 6.7 (two total) this year.
There were also only two Latino, one African-American and one Asian general manager at the start of this season.
In April 2013, MLB instituted a task force to consider ways to increase diversity in the game, especially among African-American players.
Lapchick thinks it is a crucial time for baseball in its efforts to draw more African-American players into the sport, but predicts it will take time for some of its current diversity initiatives to have an impact.
“I think that these numbers aren’t going to change in the next few years at best because pipeline so void at the Little League, college and minor league levels,” Lapchick said. “It’s just not there for African-American young people. Baseball has started to increase the numbers at those levels, but not where we will see it in Major League Baseball in the short term. If it’s going to come it will come in the long term.”
Overall, at total of 41.2 percent of players in the major leagues are made of up minorities, which Lapchick said is a positive reflection of America as a whole. The number of Latino players saw a slight percentage point increase from 28.4 in 2014 to 29.3 in 2015.
According to MLB, of the 538 front-office employees in its league office, 9.5 percent (51) are African-American, 12.8 percent (69) are Latino, 3.2 percent (17) are Asian and 2.2 percent (12) were classified as American Indian and “two or more races.”
The number of women in the league office is 29.4 percent (158), just slightly down from 30 percent (157) in 2014. The percentage of women in the league office has declined each year since 2006, when it was 42.9 percent.
Lapchick thinks baseball can begin to see an increase in the hiring of women if adopts a mandate similar to the one former Commissioner Bud Selig made in 1999 that requires teams to interview at least one person of color for open managerial positions.
“I think across all report cards we see, only the NBA has done well in terms of gender hiring,” Lapchick said. “Pressure has been on in racial hiring in all sports and that’s why grades have been high. I don’t think there’s an equal amount of pressure to hire more women in all professional sports and in college. There simply needs to be more pressure to include more women.”