Presentation on theme: "Modern Baseball and the Struggle to Integrate Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science Northern Illinois University"— Presentation transcript:
Modern Baseball and the Struggle to Integrate Artemus Ward Dept. of Political Science Northern Illinois University
Introduction One of the most consistent beliefs in our popular culture is that in professional sports African Americans have achieved parity with their white counterparts. Is this so? How will we know when parity/equality is achieved? What measures should we examine? We will discuss some of the gains and setbacks in modern baseball’s struggle to integrate. We will see how the percentage of African-American players has steadily declined in recent decades. And unlike in black baseball, front office and managerial positions were virtually unavailable for years and even today remain predominantly occupied by whites. Why?
Willie Mays Raised in Birmingham, AL Mays was a star athlete as a kid. He played for the Birmingham Black Barons of the NAL and was soon scouted by white teams. The Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers passed on him and he was signed by the New York Giants and began his major league career in He excelled and played with the Giants until they traded him to the New York Mets at the end of his career because the Mets offered him a chance to coach after he retired from playing. Mays was the hitting coach for the Mets through Suspended by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for his PR work for an Atlantic City Casino and reinstated in 1985 by Commissioner Peter Uberroth, Mays has worked as a special assistant to the president of the San Francisco Giants. Ken Burns’ Baseball Willie Mays 12:08
Integration Effects While “full integration” remained remote, the civil rights strides of the 1940s through the 1960s took an inevitable toll not only on black baseball but on other once valued separate organizations. Like the NAL and NNL, black institutions that had fulfilled a vital role during segregation found themselves functioning in a vastly transformed environment, often with predictable results. Many black hospitals, businesses, hotels, banks, and insurance companies went out of business. Still others survived by continuing to offer unique services unavailable in the white world such as black churches, historically black colleges, and some black media outlets. Was integration worth the price? How would baseball handle integration? Could “full integration” be achieved? If so, what would it look like?
Full Integration? Despite the presence of blacks on several rosters in the 1950s, the task of “full” integration of the major leagues was nowhere near complete. As late as 1952, only 6 of the 16 major league teams featured a black player on their roster. Ten years after Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers, the last three teams to finally place African Americans on their rosters were the Philadelphia Phillies in 1957, the Detroit Tigers in 1958, and the Boston Red Sox in Once on a major league team, African-Americans continued to face discrimination in such areas as salaries and housing. By 1961, 77 of 450 major league players were black (17%). By 1975 African-Americans comprised 27% of major league players. Given this trend, it was predicted by some that African Americans would comprise 40% of MLB players in the 1980s, 50% in the 1990s, 60% in the 2000s, and 70% in the 2010s. Pumpsie Green was the first African American to play for the Red Sox. He is shown here with Earl Wilson (left), who pitched a no-hitter in 1962, the first by an African American in American League history. Ken Burns’ Baseball Curt Flood Discrimination 3:12
Jackie Robinson: Race Man In 1962 Jackie Robinson became the first black player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. From 1957 to 1964, Robinson was the vice president for personnel at Chock full o'Nuts— the first black person to serve as vice president of a major American corporation. In 1965 he became the first African American to broadcast national baseball telecasts for ABC sports. He served on the board of the NAACP, helped found Freedom National Bank—a black- owned and operated commercial bank based in Harlem, and established the Jackie Robinson Construction Company to build housing for low-income families. Ken Burns’ Baseball Robinson Race Man 5:12 Ted Williams HOF speech 0:57 Robinson Dies 7:56
Hank Aaron Born in Mobile, Alabama, Henry Aaron began playing professionally at age 18 for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League and helped them win the championship in Aaron received two offers from MLB teams via telegram; one offer was from the New York Giants, the other from the then Boston Braves. Years later, Aaron remembered: "I had the Giants' contract in my hand. But the Braves offered fifty dollars a month more. That's the only thing that kept Willie Mays and me from being teammates – fifty dollars." Aaron played 23 seasons for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers. He broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record in 1973 and finished with 755. Since 1980 he has served as senior vice president of the Braves and is currently one of 11 African-American senior vice presidents and vice presidents in MLB. On January 21, 2007 Major League baseball announced the sale of the Atlanta Braves. In that announcement, Commissioner Selig also announced that Aaron would be playing a major role in the management of the Braves, forming programs through major league baseball that will encourage the influx of minorities into baseball. Ken Burns’ Baseball Hank Aaron 7:20
Frank Robinson (1975) Frank Robinson began his 21-year career in 1956 with the Cincinnati Reds, won the MVP award in 1961, was traded to the Baltimore Orioles and won it again in 1966— the only player in history to win it in both the NL and AL. Not long after Frank Robinson was hired by the Cleveland Indians in 1975 as baseball's first black manager (he was a player-manager), the Hall of Fame slugger who hit 586 home runs remembered how, as far back as 1961, he had begun to think about staying in baseball. ''By the time I was ready to be a manager,'' he said at the time, ''I believed baseball would be ready for a black manager. Not that I was thinking about being the first black manager. It turned out that way, but I would be just as happy being the third or the fifth black manager.'' Almost prophetically, Frank Robinson was hired in 1981 by the San Francisco Giants as the fourth black manager, and he was hired in 1988 by the Baltimore Orioles as the fifth black manager. He managed the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals from He sought a front-office position with the Nationals but they declined. Robinson has since been an advisor to the Commissioner. Ken Burns’ Baseball Frank Robinson 2 :21
The Campanis Affair (1987) In 1987 Los Angeles Dodger General Manager Al Campanis appeared on ABC News’ Nightline to discuss the 40 th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. Campanis had played alongside Robinson and considered him a friend. Anchorman Ted Koppel asked him why there were so few black managers and no black general managers in Major League Baseball. Campanis' reply was that blacks "may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager" for these positions. Elsewhere in the interview he said that blacks are often poor swimmers "because they don't have the buoyancy." Koppel tried to give Campanis several opportunities to clarify ("Do you really believe that?") or back down on his remarks but Campanis confirmed his views with his replies. A protest erupted the next morning and he was forced to resign. Ken Burns’ Baseball Campanis Controversy 3:54
Bob Watson (1988) Watson was a solid major leaguer from 1966 to On his retirement he became a hitting coach. In 1988 the Houston Astros named him Assistant General Manager—the first African American to hold that position. In 1993 he became the second African- American General Manager in the majors when the Astros promoted him. He served as New York Yankees GM from Since then Watson has served as Major League Baseball's vice president in charge of discipline and vice president of rules and on-field operations.
Bill White (1989) Bill White, a 13-year Major League veteran with a solid but not superstar career, was a sportscaster for 18 years following his retirement in Working for the Yankees, he became the first African-American play-by-play announcer in history. "We hired him," then Yankees president Michael Burke was quoted in The New York Post as saying, "because he was the best man for the job." In 1989 he was appointed President of the National League—the first African- American is all of sports to hold such a high position. Said White shortly after he took over the league presidency: "I hope to bring to the job my experience as a player and a love of the game. I also hope to bring a little more harmony between players and owners." A writer for Ebony magazine described White in a 1992 article as a man loathed to use his position to proselytize for broad changes in the game, particularly in regard to hiring of more minorities for leadership posts. He didn't apologize for not doing so either. As White said in the article, "I haven't used my position to try and be visible to do anything except do my job here.“ He served through 1994 and was succeeded by another African-American: Leonard S. Coleman, Jr.—the final president of the National League before the NL and AL were eliminated as independent organizations and folded into the Commissioner’s Office in 1999.
Marge Schott Banned (1996) On December 21, 1984, Marge Schott, who was a minority shareholder of the Cincinnati Reds, purchased a controlling interest, becoming their CEO and President in Schott became the second woman in MLB history to have controlling interest in a team without inheriting it. Schott quickly became a very outspoken owner and in 1992, Schott called two former star players, Eric Davis and Dave Parker, “million dollar niggers.” Before the start of an owner’s conference call she reportedly said: "I would never hire another nigger. I'd rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger.” Later in the year, Schott issued a statement that essentially supported Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and wondered why the use of the word "Jap" was offensive. After an investigation by MLB, Schott was suspended from day-to-day operations of the Reds in Her problems didn't end there, however. On May 5, 1996, Schott again voiced her support of Hitler, saying that he "was good in the beginning, but went too far.“ Following those comments, Schott became the first, and to date only, woman to be banned, and the only person to be banned solely for the content of his or her speech on a matter of public concern. She was reinstated in 1998 but sold her controlling interest in the Reds in 1999 after learning that she had lost the support of the board. She died in 2004.
Managing There were 4 African-American managers at the start of the 2010 season and 2 at the start of the 2011 season. In the 2010 MLB season, African-Americans held 12% of the coaching positions (down two percentage points from 2009) According to MLB, people of color constitute 42 percent of the coaching positions within the combined Major and Minor Leagues based on 2010 MLB workforce data.
Ulice Payne, Jr. Ulice Payne Jr. was a collegiate basketball star at Marquette and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons. He earned law degrees and was the first managing partner at Foley & Lardner. In 2003 he was named President and CEO of the Milwaukee Brewers, the first and only African- American to hold this position in MLB history. Things, however, quickly went sour between Payne and the Brewers organization. On November 9, 2003, Payne told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that most of his plans for rebuilding the team had been destroyed by other executive members of the organization who had voted to slash the 2004 payroll. While many in the Brewers organization claimed that Payne had signed the budget himself, Payne continued to hold that he was being kept out of the loop and undercut. By November 21, 2003, Payne had agreed to allow his four year contract to be bought out for $2.7 million.
The Front Office Of the staff in MLB’s Central Office, 33% were people of color (African- American, Latino, and Asian) based on 2010 MLB workforce data. According to MLB, at the director and managerial level (the front office) at the MLB Central Office, 22.5% of the employees were people of color based 2010 MLB workforce data. In the 2010 MLB season, 9.8% of team vice presidents were people of color, down 6.7% points from the prior year. In the 2010 MLB season, 16% of senior team administrators were people of color, the same as the previous year. In 2010, the percentage of people of color holding professional positions with teams was 13%, down 2% from the previous year. At the start of the 2011 season, there were three African-American general managers on individual teams. No African-Americans owned baseball teams and there were no black presidents or CEOs of baseball teams. Why not?
Void in the Community Although desegregation theoretically rendered black baseball and other separate institutions superfluous, many African Americans still remain far from “integrated” into institutions that they were formerly excluded from. In fact, geographical isolation and joblessness of blacks in major cities has remained disturbingly high. In addition, some of the moderating institutional supports that once alleviated the plight of blacks have disappeared, leaving a void in the community. Despite enabling individual black athletes to grow enormously wealthy, integrated organized baseball has never approached the importance of the Negro Leagues in black communities. Beginning in the 1960s, black interest in baseball began to wane. Why?
African-American Fans Dwindle The ambivalence of organized baseball contributed to the disengagement of black fans. While accepting black players, the industry had never fully resigned itself to black patrons. As late as 1991, several teams admitted fearing the impact of black fans on white attendance. Not surprisingly, the percentage of black major league attendance by the late 1980s fell to below 7%, and to as low as 3% in communities such as Chicago and Philadelphia that had once enthusiastically supported black baseball.
African-American Players Decline Black America’s disengagement from baseball in recent years has been coupled by the decline in the number of African Americans on major league rosters. In 1975, 27% of major league ballplayers were African-American. In 1996 that number had fallen to 17%. In 2003, African Americans occupied only 10% of roster spots. In 2005 the Houston Astros became the first team in 52 years to go to a World Series without one African American on their team. By 2011 the percentage of African Americans in baseball had fallen to 8.5%--the lowest since the Boston Red Sox became the last team to integrate in In 2003, only 2 black major leaguers had emerged from the once-flourishing black baseball hotbeds of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Why the decline?
Sheffield on Race In 2007, All-Star Gary Sheffield’s commented in GQ about the dwindling number of African- Americans in Major League Baseball and the growing number of Latin players: “I called it years ago. What I called is that you're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out. … [It's about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do -- being able to control them. Where I'm from, you can't control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is. And that's a person that you're going to talk to with respect, you're going to talk to like a man. These are the things my race demands. So, if you're equally good as this Latin player, guess who's going to get sent home? I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys.” Is Sheffield right?
Position Segregation: “Stacking” Is there an issue of “stacking” for the positions of pitcher, catcher and infielder -- baseball’s primary “thinking positions”? For the 2010 season, 5% of pitchers and 11% of infielders were African- American. 29% percent of outfielders, who rely on speed and reactive ability, were African-American during the 2010 MLB season. This percentage was almost three times that of the total percentage of African-Americans in MLB. Historically, there have been almost no African-American catchers. In fact, in 2010 there were none, decreasing from 1% in Why? At the same time, measures of skill (e.g., home runs, hits, and at bats), not race or playing position, are the only significant predictors of salary.
Inner City Baseball? Why has baseball declined in inner cities and in the African-American community? Some have suggested that African-Americans are like most fans in the era of free agency and have a stronger attachment to individual players rather than to teams. Some point to a lack of recreational facilities and equipment to play baseball in the inner cities. As a result, many young African-Americans turned to football and basketball, games that require less equipment and playing space. Still others point out that with football and basketball both offering more opportunities for athletic scholarships and a quicker path to professional play, the trend appears unlikely to shift in the near future. Frank Robinson, the first black manager in major league baseball history, said that “baseball is now third, maybe fourth in the [inner-city] household.”
Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Baseball has attempted to stimulate black interest in the game in recent years through such ventures as the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. Founded in 1989, four years after Dwight Gooden was the last African-American player to win the Cy Young award, the 185 RBI programs around the world are run with varying degrees of success. One of the better RBI program is in Los Angeles, which sends youths to showcase camps and out-of- state tournaments, because of the financial support of then Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown, who is white. African-Americans accounted for 65% of the participants in RBI in 2009; In 2011 they accounted for 50%. Do you think this program will work? Many feel that the real problem is the escalating costs of simply attending a Major League game.
Diversity Economic Impact Engagement Initiative (DEIE) DEIE is one of MLB’s newest initiatives to advance the level of MLB’s current workforce and supplier diversity efforts as well as create methodologies for cultural assessments, diversity economic platforms and industry-wide diversity training. This internal consultant model approach will be developed throughout the industry’s Central Office, member Clubs and eventually the Minor Leagues.
Diverse Business Partner Program (DBP) Major League Baseball's Diverse Business Partner's Program is the leading supplier diversity program in sports. This major league procurement initiative has produced significant economic opportunity for baseball's Commissioner's office, its franchises and local communities. The strategic implementation of MLB's Diverse Business Partners Program has resulted in well over $800 million being spent with thousands of minority- and women-owned businesses. This award-winning program has continued to enrich baseball's business case for diversity by establishing a procurement environment that economically benefits the league as well as its minority and majority business partners. The DBP program has been awarded the recognition of being listed with "America's Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities" for several years running.
The Civil Rights Game Beginning in 2007, an annual Civil Rights game has been played between two teams during the regular season in order to "embrace baseball's history of African-American players," as well as to generate interest for future black players. In conjunction with the Civil Rights Game, Major League Baseball honors three pioneers of civil rights with the Beacon Awards (Beacon of Life Award, Beacon of Change Award and Beacon of Hope Award).
The Selig Business Conference MLB and the Atlanta Braves, along with MLB's Major and Minor League Clubs and strategic partners, launched the inaugural Selig Business Conference at the Georgia Aquarium (May 12-13, 2011). This event provides a unique opportunity for career networking and entrepreneurs to connect with MLB industry representatives as well as register their resumes and business profiles on-site. The Conference not only captures MLB's advocacy in regards to supplier and workforce diversity, but also presents discussions that are educational, entertaining and celebratory.
Conclusion Despite the strides made by African Americans in baseball, front- office and managerial positions continue to remain relatively elusive and the number of African Americans in baseball continues to decline as other sports gain in popularity with the community. In recent years MLB has undertaken a number of initiatives to try to promote diversity both on the field and off. By all accounts, if African-American fans and kids have little or no interest in baseball it will be nearly impossible to reverse the declining number of African American players and the small number of African American managerial and front office personnel.
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