Major league job openings aren't open to everyone
Since the start of the 1991 baseball season, major league teams have gone hunting for a new manager 14 times. Only the Kansas City Royals decided a black man—Hal McRae—was the best man for the job, and of the five teams that were still looking for a manager at the end of the World Series, none was expected to name a black or a Latin. Seven teams have sought general managers this season. No blacks or Latin Americans have even been interviewed.
Twenty-one jobs available; one minority hired. That's a record so dismal that Clifford Alexander, a black who is the baseball commissioner's consultant on equal-opportunity hiring, feels compelled to blast major league owners. "They're ignoring everything they're hearing from us and from the commissioner," Alexander says. "They say they need talented people, yet they're not giving consideration to all the available talent—in this case, Latinos and blacks. That's just stupid."
Ten Latin Americans and 13 blacks managed in the minors this season, filling only about 10% of the jobs. Most of the Latins are at the rookie league level, where they are often thought of as little more than glorified interpreters for young Spanish-speaking players. Only one Latin, Max Oliveras of the California Angels' affiliate in Edmonton, managed at the Triple A level, and Oliveras, a native of Puerto Rico, has not been considered for any major league position.
Milwaukee Brewers batting coach Don Baylor, who is black, is frequently mentioned as a managerial candidate, but he is sometimes faulted for refusing to go to the minors and manage, preferring to coach in the majors. Says Alexander, "Why is it we have to toil in the vineyards for 20 years to get a top job? Did Lou Piniella toil for 20 years before he got a shot?" Alexander might also have made mention of Art Howe, Jeff Torborg, Joe Torre and Bobby Valentine, other white big league managers who, like Piniella, never skippered in the minors.
Major league teams say that they are looking for managers and G.M.'s with experience. But before the Florida Marlins hired him last week as a scout, Cookie Rojas, the last Latin to manage in the majors (with the Angels in 1988), wasn't interviewed for any of the managerial vacancies. And experience has yet to help Houston Astro assistant general manager Bob Watson, who is black, get an interview for a job as a G.M. despite the fact that he is a respected administrator.
Baseball should start giving people like Oliveras, Rojas and Watson the opportunity to make a case for themselves.
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