NEW YORK – The percentage of black players in the major leagues dropped again on opening day this year even as the sport again received a top overall grade for racial diversity.
Baseball's grade for gender hiring declined slightly, according to the annual study released Thursday by Richard Lapchick's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.
Baseball received an A for racial diversity in hiring, the same grade as last year, and a B-minus for gender, down from a B. Its overall grade remained a B-plus.
"A one-year difference like this must be seen with the perspective of the overall pattern baseball has been going in," he said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "If it t happened two or three years in a row, it would be different."
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. It was 17 percent when Lapchick began tracking the figure in 1990.
The percentage of Latino players dropped from 28.4 percent to 27 percent — baseball's lowest since 1999's 26 percent.
"This has been a concern of Major League Baseball 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 Major League Baseball'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.
Lapchick said baseball's overall gender grade nearly slipped to a C-plus.
"The old boys' network has a healthier life at the team level than at the central office," Lapchick said. "For the most part, I don't see any evidence of it existing at the central office level."