MLB, MLBPA Create $10M Fund to Improve Black Representation in Baseball

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2020, file photo, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a press conference during baseball owners meetings in Orlando, Fla. Manfred tells The Associated Press that the commissioner's office, teams and the players' association
John Raoux/Associated Press

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced Monday they will commit $10 million to improve representation of Black Americans in the sport:

The Players Alliance, a group of 143 Black current and former MLB players, is designing the programs that will receive the funding.

"Major League Baseball is committed to enacting positive changes within our sport to mirror those we hope to see in society," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "We believe that the efforts led by The Players Alliance will complement existing diversity initiatives and accelerate progress that will be beneficial for our game."

The initiative will direct efforts across all levels of baseball, supporting participation at youth camps as well as public school and community center programs, while offering player-led mentorship.

The Players Alliance used players' experiences to help design the programs. President Curtis Granderson, who retired last offseason after 16 years in the majors, explained the strategy to James Wagner of the New York Times:

"MLB and the union have rolled out programs historically, and some have been great and some have obviously needed to have a little bit of assistance to them. We, as the players—the market you have been targeting—some of us have gone through these programs or have started very similar programs, so we can be a great resource to take the programs that are already good and make them better, or introduce some new ones."

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Black players represent only about 8 percent of MLB players this season, down from a high of 19 percent in the early 1980s, per Wagner. There were 67 Black players on Opening Day rosters for 2020.

There are also only two Black managers and no majority owners. Derek Jeter is a part-owner of the Miami Marlins and is on the advisory committee for the Players Alliance.