Percentage of black players in MLB drops again

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NEW YORK (AP) — The percentage of black players in Major League Baseball dropped again on opening day this year even as the league again received a top overall grade for racial diversity.

MLB’s grade for gender hiring declined slightly, according to the annual study released on Thursday by Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.

MLB received an A for racial diversity, the same grade as last year, and a B-minus for gender, down from a B. Its overall grade remained a B-plus.

The percentage of black players dropped to 8.5 percent on opening day this year, down from 10 percent at the start of last season and its lowest level since 2007. The percentage of Latino players dropped from 28.4 percent to 27 percent — MLB’s lowest since 1999’s 26 percent.

“This has been a concern of MLB and leaders in the African-American community,” Lapchick said. “However, the 38.3 percent of players who are people of color also make the playing fields look more like America with its large Latino population.”

While MLB’s central office received an A-plus for racial diversity and an A-minus for gender diversity, the 30 clubs fared more poorly.

The number of black and Latino managers dropped from 10 at the start of the 2010 season to six, and the percentage of black and Latino coaches dropped from 31 to 29 percent. No blacks were team chief executives or presidents and only Houston Astros president of business Pam Gardner fell into that category.

Black and Latino general managers dropped from five to four, and at the team vice president level percentages declined for blacks (9.8 percent last year) and women (18.2 percent). For the VP level, teams received a C-to-C-plus for racial diversity and an F for gender diversity.

“MLB has made great strides with diversity in who runs the game, and today is one of the best in sports.” Lapchick said. “However, there is clearly room for improvement, especially regarding hiring more women into professional positions.”

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.