BREAKING THE BARRIER–In this April 15, 1947 file photo, from left, Brooklyn Dodgers baseball players John Jorgensen, Pee Wee Reese, Ed Stanky and Jackie Robinson pose at Ebbets Field in New York. (AP Photo, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has created a task force that will study how to increase diversity in the game, especially among Black players.
Commissioner Bud Selig announced the committee Wednesday.
In less than a week, baseball will celebrate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. A new movie titled “42” focuses on the Hall of Famer.
The 18-member committee includes representatives from club ownership, the players’ union, minor league and college baseball, the MLB scouting bureau and other areas. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and former major league manager Jerry Manuel are among the members.
MLB says about 8.5 percent of players on this year’s opening day rosters identified themselves as African-American or Black. That’s around half the number from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s.
“As a social institution, Major League Baseball has an enormous social responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all people, both on and off the field,” Selig said in a statement.
Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg and Detroit Tigers president Dave Dombrowski will help run the committee. Southern University head coach Roger Cador, Chicago White Sox Executive Vice President Ken Williams, MLB Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Kim Ng, union official and former big leaguer Tony Clark and Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall are among the other members.
MLB runs the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and has seven Urban Youth Academies that are either running or are in development.
“I am proud of the work we have done thus far with the RBI program and the MLB Urban Youth Academies, but there is more that we must accomplish,” Selig said.
“We have seen a number of successful efforts with existing MLB task forces, and I believe we have selected the right people to effectively address the many factors associated with diversity in baseball,” he said.