Yet another study documents baseball’s White bias

LaTroy Hawkins
Photo by Charles Hallman

Blacks are more likely than Whites to be fired from Major League Baseball managerial jobs and less likely to be rehired, a new Global Sport Institute study has shown. The Institute is based at Arizona State University.

The Institute’s executive summary pointed out, “The purpose of this report is to explore and report on managerial hiring and firing trends, not to extrapolate how or why these patterns occur.” They looked at incoming and outgoing MLB managers by race for 2010-19 and found the following:

  • 8 of 63 total outgoing (or fired) managers were Blacks
  • 3 of 63 hired managers were Black
  • Of 13 managers of color hired, only one had no prior MLB coaching experience while over one-third of White managers hired lacked similar experience.

 Global Sport Institute recently asked avid baseball historian and freelance columnist Shakeia Taylor to write about the results of the 2020 extensive study. She told the MSR, “I actually feel like this data confirms [what we’ve known]. It’s no surprise that African American managers or managers of color have to have more experience or actually have a [major league] playing career.”

Considered one of the best baseball writers today, Taylor noted that MLB’s current reliance on analytics for making on- and off-field decisions may have erected yet another brick wall that Blacks must bust through for MLB manager jobs. A former major leaguer told her “that non-White players…are just not smart enough to understand it or employ it as a tool.”

Shakeia Taylor
Submitted photo

“It really comes down to perception and bias,” said Taylor.

If teams are truly using analytics to determine whether or not a Black person qualifies for manager jobs, “That’s a bad reason,” stressed former MLB pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, who played for 11 teams, including Minnesota, in 21 seasons. Hawkins is one of three special assistants in the Minnesota Twins baseball operations.

He told the MSR that once he offered to take an analytics class and Twins Executive VP Derek Falvey advised against it. According to Hawkins, Falvey told him, “We have people here that can teach it to you.” The retired major leaguer said that if Whites can learn analytics, “We can learn it, too.”

The Twins earlier this month hired two new coaches, both White. During a Zoom call introducing the two men to the local media, the MSR asked Falvey how this is improving baseball diversity, especially since unless things change there will be only one Black on the team’s coaching staff.  

“We’ve talked about this before,” he responded. “I’ve said this a number of times…diversity on our staff is critical to us. It’s something that we’ve been able to achieve over the last few years and add some different people with different skill sets, different backgrounds, different ethnicities and all of the above.”

Besides Hawkins and Torii Hunter, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew are also special assistants. Senior Scouting Advisor Deron Johnson and Meka White Morris as senior vice-president and chief revenue officer are among the few high-ranking Blacks in the Twins organization.  

“It’s still a priority for us, not just in our coaching staff but in our office, our scouting ranks, and our player development ranks,” stated Falvey on Twins diversity. “But we have work to do and we’re going to continue to do that work.”

As the Global Sport Institute study reminds us, Major League Baseball’s record of hiring Blacks remains as poor as ever. As with almost everything about baseball, it remains White.