Posted on July 13, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
When the Atlanta Braves fired Fredi Gonzalez earlier this season, it left Major League Baseball without any Latino managers, despite the vast presence of Latin American players, including many star players, throughout the game. While speaking to the Baseball Writers Association of America on Tuesday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged the lack of Latino managers in the game today, and said it doesn’t sit well with him.
“The absence of a Latino manager is glaring,” Manfred said Tuesday. “There are 30 jobs and there are 30 high-turnover jobs when you’re talking about field managers, and you’re going to have an ebb and flow in terms of diversity, given that there is no central authority sitting above the 30 clubs saying, look, we want to have this makeup among these employees.”
Manfred’s predecessor, Bud Selig, instituted the “Selig Rule” several years ago, requiring teams to interview at least one minority candidate for every managerial opening. However, the rule does not apply when a managerial hire is made during the season, as was the case with the Braves after firing Gonzalez.
Tony Clark, head of the MLB Players Union, is also upset at the lack of Latino managers. “I firmly believe that having as diverse a system as possible from top to bottom is beneficial to the industry, so not just on the field, off it as well,” Clark said. “And to be in a position where we don’t have those that reflect our membership in positions of leadership is disappointing.”
Roughly 28% of players on opening day rosters this year hail from Latin American countries, yet there are only two minority managers in the game: Dusty Baker, who is African American, and Dave Roberts, who is of African American and Japanese decent. In 2009, there were 10 minority managers in baseball, and to drop all the way to two is a drastic shift that’s greater than the “ebb and flow” Manfred spoke about.
When the lack of Latino managers was pointed out to Miguel Cabrera earlier this week, the two-time MVP was both surprised and disappointed when he realized the lack of Latino representation in managerial positions. “How can it be possible?” he said. “It appears strange to me that there are so many Latino players and not a single manager. Maybe something needs to be done in order to give them more opportunities.”
Manfred said on Tuesday that MLB is making it a priority to get African American communities involved in baseball, saying: “It is an economic imperative for us because our country is becoming more and more diverse, and we have to put a playing complement on the field that reflects the United States.” However, he does not appear to have a concrete plan in place to address the disproportionate number of Latino managers in the big leagues compared to the number of Latin American players currently playing in the majors.