Major League Baseball has created a task force to address the declining number of African-Americans playing the sport.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced the 18-person On-Field Diversity Task Force Wednesday, with a stated mission of focusing on “the myriad issues influencing on-field diversity at all levels of baseball.”
USA Today reported this week that the proportion of African-Americans on Opening Day 25-man rosters — 7.7 percent — is the lowest since 1959. The decrease has occurred despite baseball’s efforts through the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and MLB Urban Youth Academies, making apparent the need for a new approach.
“As a social institution, Major League Baseball has an enormous social responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all people, both on and off the field,” Selig said in a statement.
“I am proud of the work we have done thus far with the RBI program and the MLB Urban Youth Academies, but there is more that we must accomplish. We have seen a number of successful efforts with existing MLB task forces, and I believe we have selected the right people to effectively address the many factors associated with diversity in baseball.”
Dave Dombrowski, president and CEO of the Detroit Tigers, will chair the task force, which includes Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the MLB executive vice president of baseball development.
The presence of Southern University head baseball coach Roger Cador on the committee is significant, as the comparatively low number of NCAA baseball scholarships is viewed as a major impediment to African-American participation in the sport.
According to MLB’s internal player diversity report, 8 percent of players on 40-man rosters as of last November were African-American; the percentages of Caucasians and Hispanics were 62 and 28, respectively.