Major League Baseball was lily white, for players and management alike, until Jackie Robinson left the Negro Leagues to join the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
How much progress has been made toward the goal of diversity since then? Not enough.
A new report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida shows that Major League Baseball could still use some improvement when it comes to the hiring of people of color and women in management positions.
The "2016 Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card" gave the teams an "A" on racial hiring practices and an overall grade of "B." Some of the lowest marks were for gender hiring practices, where the teams got a "C+" for management positions, "C" for senior team administration and professional administration, and an "F" for vice-presidents.
The most important questions asked by the annual report are: "Are we playing fair when it comes to sports?" and, "Does everyone regardless of race or gender, have a chance to play or to operate a team?"
In the 2015 draft, nine out of 36 players drafted, or 25 percent, were black. The 2016 season began with only three managers of color, out of 30 teams. The high points came in 2002 and 2009, when there were ten managers. There are four general managers of color, down from an all-time high of five.
Women, meanwhile, occupied less than 30 percent of Central Office professional positions. Moreover, the report noted, "There have been no women who served as team presidents since Pam Gardner left that post with the Houston Astros in 2011."
According to Dr. Richard Lapchick, the report's author, "In the years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, his vision was to see diverse players on the field reflecting diverse coaches and those in the front office."
Lapchick adds, "The team front offices need to continue to make an effort to create a workforce that mirrors America."
Here's to hoping that Jackie Robinson's vision for Major League Baseball, on and off the field, will be a reality.
Peace, love, compassion and blessings.