Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society has released its annual report on minority participation, finding that Major League Baseball still lags behind the NBA and NFL in minority hiring of coaches and front-office personnel.
Baseball received an overall "C" grade in 11 areas, compared with an "A" for the NBA and a "B" for the NFL. Unlike the NBA and NFL, neither Major League Baseball nor its teams cooperated in the study, so most of the material was supplied from Clifford Alexander and Associates (consultants to Major League Baseball) and team media guides.
Baseball's grade, down from last year's C+, marked the first time a league has had a grade fall in the four years of the "racial report card."
Baseball's minority hiring record came under criticism after a 1987 television interview in which then-Los Angeles Dodgers executive Al Campanis said blacks "may lack some of the necessities" to be in management. The criticism was renewed after Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was accused of and later suspended for making derogatory remarks about blacks, Jews and Asians.
"It's long been the dream, because of the concept of teamwork, that sports would pioneer the breaking down of racial barriers in society," said Dr. Richard Lapchick, the center's director, in a prepared statement yesterday. "That was the dream when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. The terrible fact is they haven't made that much progress since then."
According to the report, baseball made dramatic improvement after the Campanis incident, going from 2 percent front-office minority employment in 1987 to 16 percent in 1991. But since 1991, minority employment in baseball management, administrative and front-office positions has increased only from to 17 percent.
The NFL's league office has minorities in 23 percent of its management positions. The NBA has 27 percent.
Yesterday, Lapchick blamed baseball's slowed progress on the lack of a commissioner.
"When David Stern took over at the NBA, he set a tone," said Lapchick. "It is directly attributable to Paul Tagliabue that the NFL has surpassed Major League Baseball in minority hiring. Fay Vincent was just getting a start, but since he's left, there has been no leadership."
Baseball also was the only sport showing a majority of white participants, at 67 percent. Sixteen percent were black and another 16 percent were classified as Latin.
The figures represent a continued decline of blacks in baseball from 24 percent in the early 1980s.
According to Lapchick, some of the decline can be attributed to the lack of playing fields in urban areas.
Baseball, though, scored fairly high for hiring minority coaches. The sport saw a doubling of minority managers at the start of this season with Dusty Baker of the San Francisco Giants and Don Baylor of the Colorado Rockies joining Cito Gaston of Toronto and Hal McRae of Kansas City as the blacks among the 28 baseball managers.
And Montreal's Felipe Alou was joined by Tony Perez at Cincinnati as the only Latin managers, although Perez was fired by the Reds after 44 games. Twenty percent of baseball's assistant coaches were minorities.
Seventy-seven percent of NBA players were black, and blacks accounted for 68 percent of the players in the NFL.
But in the NFL, the Los Angeles Raiders' Art Shell and the Minnesota Vikings' Dennis Green remain the only two black head coaches the league has ever had. Tom Flores, a Latin, heads the Seattle Seahawks as head coach and general manager.
Twenty percent of NFL assistant coaches are minorities, but there were only four blacks among the league's 44 offensive and defensive coordinators, considered the top-level jobs before becoming head coaches.
Seven of the 27 NBA teams had black head coaches, up from two the previous season and six in the 1990-91 season.
Blacks accounted for 26 percent of the assistant coaching jobs, slightly down from the previous season's 33 percent.
The NBA also has five teams that have black general managers and eight teams with minority vice presidents.
No NFL or baseball franchise has had a black general manager.
WHAT'S UP FRONT
The percentages of white, black, Latin and Asian personnel in front-office and administrative positions in Major League Baseball, the NBA and NFL. Baseball's percentages include support staff as well as professional staff, but NBA and NFL numbers do not include support staff. Figures are for 1992.
.. .. .. .. ..MLB.. .. .. .. NBA.. .. .. .. NFL
White .. .. .. 83 .. .. .. .. 86 .. .. .. ..90
Black .. .. .. 9 .. .. .. .. 11 .. .. .. .. 6
Latin .. .. .. 6 .. .. .. .. 2 .. .. .. .. 3
Asian .. .. .. 2 .. .. .. .. 1 .. .. .. .. 1
Source: Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society