Diversity, as far as the Minnesota Twins are concerned, remains like a haystack needle. We are not social scientists, but we are eye-test experts. We easily recognize diversity or the lack thereof when we see it
There is one non-U.S.-born Black player (Miguel Sano) and one Black coach (Butch Davis) on the team. Out of 164 persons in the Twins’ 2016 front office directory, only two of the five Blacks listed have supervisory responsibilities.
There seemed to be more Blacks in the Sounds of Blackness group who performed a song before the game than there were Blacks in the stands at the August 23 “Twins’ Celebrate Diversity Day.”
The team’s culturally conditioned practices of underestimating, undervaluing and margainizing Blacks is historic, dating back to Calvin Griffith’s ownership days.
Having Black skin is not a prerequisite to play baseball, but in Minnesota opportunities to see Blacks on the parent club in large numbers are far and few between. In fact, there are more Blacks (three) in the St. Paul Saints minor league club than in the major league Twins, who seem hell-bent on their self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts: Blacks don’t fit on a virtually all-White team.
Yet the Twins leads the majors in annual faux diversity days. They lead baseball in Black community drive-by’s.
The club’s half-page ad placements are barely representative of their community outreach efforts. How many Twins player autograph sessions are held on West Broadway or Lake Street compared to suburban locales?
It’s even harder to keep hearing team officials tell us, when asked about the team’s overwhelming Whiteness, ‘We can do better.’ Talking diversity with them is like singing The Friends of Distinction classic “Going in Circles.”
Talk is easy. So is our eye test. To paraphrase a line in Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City,” the Twins don’t use colored people.
Furthermore it’s hard for a columnist at the state’s oldest Black newspaper whose primary audience is Black to keep writing “no Blacks on the field, no Blacks in the front office, no Blacks at the games” stories. Still, it is also important for us to keep a watchful eye not only on the Twins, but on the diversity efforts of every team in this town, no matter how meager they may be.
The “2016 MLB Racial and Gender Report Card” by The Institute for Diversity of Ethics in Sport (TIDES), released during this season’s first month in April, concluded, “The team [hiring] levels remain far behind the League Office.”
Let’s play a quick “diversity game” based on Family Feud. We polled our hypothetical group on this question: How many Blacks, whether in raw numbers or percentages, did the TIDES report find on 2016 Opening Day?
- Blacks on MLB rosters — barely eight percent. Twins — one.
- Black coaches — 10 percent. Twins — one.
- Black team presidents — one (Miami). Twins — zero.
- Black general managers — two. Twins — zero.
- Black executive vice-presidents, senior vice presidents and vice presidents — 25. Twins — zero.
- Black senior administration (directors, assistant GMs, media relations) — 5.4 percent. Twins — zero.
- Black professional administration (assistant managers, coordinators) — eight percent. Twins — two.
- Black physicians — 10 percent. Twins — zero.
- Head trainers of color — 9.5 percent. Twins — zero.
As the TIDES report card annually asks, “Are we playing fair when it comes to sports? Does everyone, regardless of race or gender, have a chance to play or to operate a team?”
We annually ask a second question: Can the Twins do better in their diversity efforts, as they keep promising us? Believe it or not, the team can do better not only on the field, but even more so off it. It only takes a little imagination.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.