Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon’s status as the sole black manager in professional baseball highlights a glaring lack of diversity among team managers.
UPDATE, FRIDAY 9:45 a.m.: Lloyd McClendon won’t return as manager for the 2016 season, according to sources. The Mariners are expected make the announcement Friday morning.
ORIGINAL EDITORIAL: IN an interview last summer with The New York Times, Seattle Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendoncompared being Major League Baseball’s only black manager to “sitting on an island by yourself.”
That island might disappear. McClendon’s future with the team is uncertain after Jerry Dipoto was hired as general manager last month. And Mariner watchers are abuzz about whether Dipoto will keep or replace McClendon.
Regardless, MLB needs to work harder at ensuring that managers of color are not anomalies.
Besides McClendon, the only other person of color in a manager role is Fredi Gonzalez, a Latino who manages the Atlanta Braves.
That’s two in a league of 30 teams; nearly 40 percent of players and assistant coaches on those teams are people of color, according to the 2015 MLB Racial and Gender Report Cardby the University of Central Florida. The report found that the number of nonwhite managers has steadily decreased since 2009, when there were 10.
The league and its teams can start by enforcing a policy that’s been on its books since 1999: the so-called Selig rule that requires teams to consider qualified candidates of color when top positions open up.
The rule isn’t working, experts say, because team owners are ignoring it.
“Diversity takes work,” said Adrian Burgos Jr., a baseball historian and professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It doesn’t happen automatically and we have seen teams bypass the mandate of the Selig rule.”
The lack of diversity among managers isn’t due to a lack of talent or a pipeline, said Anthony Salazar, a Seattle-based chair of the Latino Baseball committee for the Society for American Baseball Research. Many black and Latino former players have gone into coaching positions as assistants or head minor-league teams, but their careers stall before they reach the MLB manager role.
In the past week, manager positions have opened up with the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals. Qualified candidates of all backgrounds deserve access to those opportunities.