AFTER Al Campanis, then Los Angeles Dodgers general manager, said in 1987 that blacks lacked "the necessities" to hold high-level jobs in baseball, many thought the furor caused by that disgraceful remark would end the barriers that, for the most part, had kept minorities out of on-field and front-office management positions.
Now, in his 1991 state-of-the-game speech, Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent has a clear message for baseball club owners: When it comes to minority hiring in baseball "there is much more to do."
Those remarks, made Monday, coincided with the release of baseball's annual minority hiring report, which showed that managerial job opportunities for non-whites have not improved much. In some high-profile positions such as manager and general manager, the situation is particularly abysmal. For instance, of the 14 managerial positions that opened up this year, only one went to a black -- Hal McRae of the Kansas City Royals. Among the 26 teams in the majors, there are only three black managers. There are no minorities among general managers, including the expansion teams, the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies. About a third of all players are black or Latino.
Sadly, baseball continues to be a game where minorities are recognized for their contributions on the field but are repeatedly denied a role off the field. Vincent is to be commended for speaking out, but, as home run king Hank Aaron put it recently, "It's better than it was 5 or 10 years ago, but being better doesn't make it good."