Dusty Baker was one of two finalists for the Nationals’ open managerial position, but lost out to Bud Black. If he were hired, Baker would have been the only African American manager in baseball and only the second non-white manager along with Fredi Gonzalez.
Baseball’s lack of diversity in its coaching staffs and front offices has been a topic of conversation in recent times, and Baker is among those who feels the sport isn’t doing enough. Baker, who has 20 years of managing experience, said baseball is going “backwards”. Via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Beyond the fact the percentage of African American players has dipped from 27 in 1975 to below 10, African American managers are nowhere to be found. In 2002, there were eight. Now there are none.
“If that’s not backwards, I don’t know how much more backwards we can go,” Baker said.
When I asked him afterward about the subject, he said, “You wonder if it’s an accident or by design.”
The list of African American managers is rather short. While front offices aren’t consciously passing over black manager candidates specifically due to race, the structure of the sport creates an unlevel playing field for those who aren’t white. According to that list, there have been 27 managers since the game was integrated in 1947, an average of one African-American manager for every 2.5 seasons.
Shea notes that 38 percent of baseball’s players are black or Latino. Specifically, eight percent of baseball players were black in 2014 and that percentage was as high as 27 percent in 1975. The odds that an 8-27 percent player base would yield only a three percent manager base over multiple seasons is rather low. Baseball absolutely has a diversity problem and Baker is rightly pointing that out.