USA Baseball today named Tony Reagins Team USA’s General Manager for the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). Currently the Chief Baseball Development Officer for Major League Baseball and a member of USA Baseball’s Board of Directors, Reagins, a former GM for the LA Angels is tasked with leading the red, white, and blue to back-to-back world titles after the 2017 squad won the WBC after defeating Puerto Rico 8-0 in the championship game.
Reagins will make his first appearance on a WBC staff with USA Baseball but is no stranger to the role. In 2007, he became the fifth African American General Manager in MLB history when he was promoted by the Los Angeles Angels, beginning a tenure in which the Halos went 363-285 (.560). He led the 2008 Angels to their first 100-win season in franchise history and won consecutive league titles in 2008 and 2009. In 2021, Reagins served as the General Manager for the U.S. Olympic Team that won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“It’s an honor to be named General Manager of Team USA for the 2023 World Baseball Classic,” Reagins said. “We’re looking forward to assembling a talented coaching staff and roster that will build off the success of the 2017 team and make our country proud, while competing against the best players from around the world.”
A native of Indio, California, and graduate of California State University, Fullerton, Reagins began his career as an intern with the Angels and worked his way up to the Director of Player Development before taking over as General Manager. Under his direction, Reagins was responsible for the free-agent signing of Torii Hunter in 2007 and drafting Mike Trout in 2009.
He joined the Commissioner’s Office in March 2015 as Senior Vice President of the first-ever Youth Programs department and became the Executive Vice President of Baseball & Softball Development in March 2018. By the time Reagins was named Major League Baseball’s Chief Baseball Development Officer in 2020, baseball and softball were the most participated team sport in the United States, and participation in baseball rose 20% since 2014.
He continued the development of PLAY BALL in partnership with USA Baseball and USA Softball with the implementation of initiatives such as Fun At Bat and has led the ascent of diversity-focused programs such as Hank Aaron Invitational, DREAM Series, Breakthrough Series, and the Elite Development Invitational.
Additionally, his efforts to grow the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program in the United States, South America, Canada, Europe, and Africa have shone, amounting to a nearly 160% increase in participation from 2016 to 2020.
Team USA will begin its WBC title defense as part of Pool C in Phoenix, Arizona, from March 11-15 and will face Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and a to-be-determined qualifying team. The Pool C winner and runner-up will advance to the quarterfinals in Miami, Florida, from March 17-18, and match-up against the winner and runner-up of Pool D.
The fifth installment of the Classic, which will be played from March 8-21, 2023, will take place at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan; the Tokyo Dome in Japan; Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in Phoenix; and LoanDepot park, the home of the Miami Marlins, in Florida. LoanDepot park in Miami will also host the semifinals and finals of the World Baseball Classic from March 19-21.
The U.S. won its first WBC title in 2017. Marcus Stroman was named the MVP after throwing six scoreless innings in the final and finishing the tournament with a 2.35 ERA. USA Baseball will look to identify the coaching staff and roster over the next several months.
Jala Norman gives her take on MLB’s marketing approach as it pertains to building the future generations of Black fans. She also speaks about how valuable Mookie Betts and Andrew McCutchen’s Disney Puppy Dog Pals appearance could be for MLB.
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%:
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 56Black/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.
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).