We’re seeing Black and Brown players making a real impact early in this MLB season and there are more prospects coming down the pipeline, but the numbers tell the story and MLBbro.com has some information that Jackie Robinson would be very interested in.
The percentage of Black & Brown players on 2021 Opening Day rosters (including IL, restricted and suspended players) was 7.6%, which remained generally consistent with 2019 and 2020 Opening Day rosters:
Overall the diversity of all players on Opening Day rosters (906 players in total) is 37.6%:
- 28.1% – Hispanic/Latino (255 players)
- 7.6% – Black/African-American (69 players)
- 1.4% – Asian (13 players)
- 0.4% – Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (4 players)
- 0.1% Native American (1 player)
Under MLB protocols for the 2021 season, each MLB Club has designated players at Alternate Training sites who will train and practice at locations near MLB ballparks. There are an additional 56 Black/African-American players.
With the 125 Black/African-American players at the Major League/Alternate Site levels to start the 2021 Season, there is tremendous future potential in the representation of players on the field. The overall diversity of MLB Alternate Sites is 39.4%.
The Texas Rangers (10) and Seattle Mariners (8) led Clubs in Black players on their Opening Day and Alternate site rosters.
— MLB Draft (@MLBDraft) June 11, 2020
The MLB Draft continues to show promising signs for a future increase in Black or African-American players.
Between 2012 and 2020, the first round of the MLB Draft featured 51 Black or African-American players out of 289 selections (17.6 percent), including a large percentage of alumni from MLB-led youth & amateur baseball development programs.
In the 2020 Draft, 16 of the first 73 selections (21.9 percent) were people of color including Black or African-Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Asians, and Pacific Islanders.
Of those, 9 were Black or African-American players, accounting for 12.3 percent of the first 73 selections.
Additionally, Black amateur players continue to rank high on prospective lists ahead of the 2021 MLB Draft.
Led by Tony Reagins, one of only six African-American General Managers in MLB history, MLB’s Baseball & Softball Development group is committed to creating year-round opportunities for:
- Grassroots participation to introduce and grow game at the youngest levels.
- Through PLAY BALL, RBI and the “in-school” Fun At Bat program.
- In 2020 and 2021, successfully launched the “Drive-Thru PLAY BALL” effort specifically with Black Churches throughout the U.S.
- Diversify the baseball and softball pipeline by focusing on development and advancement through a variety of diversity-focused introductory and developmental programs.
NOTE: 95% of all baseball development event participants (Hank Aaron Invitational, DREAM SEries, Breakthrough Series) who have graduated high school have played baseball at the college or pro level.
- Other programs/initiatives include the MLB Youth Academy network and ID Tour
- Highlight the competitive landscape of both high school and collegiate baseball & softball.
- MLB-led programming (with USA Baseball & USA Softball) reaches more than 4 million youth around the world.
- Utilized the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, FL (the former “Historic Dodgertown”) as a hub for premier youth baseball and softball programming led by MLB, USA Baseball and USA Softball.
Off The Field & In The Front Office
Chicago White Sox Executive VP Ken Williams is the lone Black man in charge of baseball operations for any major-league club. He was hired as the White Sox’s GM 21 years ago, and during the past two decades, the only other Black GMs hired throughout baseball were Tony Reagins (Los Angeles Angels) Michael Hill (Miami Marlins) and Dave Stewart (Arizona Diamondbacks.)
They have yet to get another opportunity. The only active minority GMs are Al Avila of the Detroit Tigers, Farhan Zaidi of the San Francisco Giants and Kim Ng.
Diversity Pipeline Program
Launched in 2016, DPP seeks to identify, develop and grow the pool of qualified minority and female candidates for on‐field and baseball operations positions in professional baseball.
- Has assisted in more than 215 total hires in a variety of baseball operations, coaching, and trainer roles, including 120 during the 2018-2020 cycle.
- In Q1 in 2021, the DPP has assisted with 38 hires throughout the League, 53% of which have been African-American.
- Diverse Pipeline Program candidates have increased 339% since March 2020.
Additional programs include:
- Diversity Fellowship Program (Competitive pipeline for people of diverse backgrounds into front office positions that did not previously exist)
- Former Player Internship program (has assisted former players of color – with an eye on expanding that toward more women candidates – with successful transitions into front office roles)
- Continuing education sessions with members of the Buck O’Neil Professional Baseball Scouts & Coaches Association.
- Sponsored 55 students to virtually attend the 10th Annual Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference (·75% were students of color; nine from HBCUs).