Three days after voicing concern about the slow pace of minority hiring, baseball commissioner Fay Vincent met with Baltimore Orioles assistant general manager Frank Robinson to discuss the problem and possible solutions.
Vincent and Robinson spoke for about 45 minutes in Vincent's New York office yesterday afternoon. Robinson also met with National League president Bill White, who joined Vincent last week in criticizing the owners of the Denver Rockies expansion franchise for not hiring minorities for front-office jobs.
"The commissioner was looking for some advice, for some new ideas. He wanted to hear what I had to say on the subject," said Robinson, who was the first black to become a major-league manager in 1975 with the Cleveland Indians.
Robinson declined to talk about specific advice he gave to Vincent. But he said he generally supported the commissioner's efforts.
"I think he has handled it correctly. He has done what he's able to do," Robinson said. "I know he's frustrated by [the slow progress in blacks joining major-league front offices]. That's why he is open to suggestion."
Vincent said that the meeting with Robinson was one of several he plans with prominent minority baseball experts.
"I don't think it's isolated," he said of the meeting with Robinson. "I meet with lots of people on this particular subject. I am trying to get people in baseball, especially blacks, to talk to me and tell me what I can be doing."
Last week, Vincent and White told The New York Times they were concerned that the Rockies have not hired minorities for roughly a half-dozen high-level front-office jobs. That is consistent with hiring records of other teams in recent years.
Since August 1990, 11 general managers, three club presidents and eight field managers have been hired. In only one case, when the Kansas City Royals named Hal McRae as their manager, has the new hire been a member of a minority group.
Robinson said he told Vincent he would like to become involved in an effort to increase baseball jobs filled by minorities. Part of that might be talking with those who do the hiring, he said.
"When I am in their presence, I can talk to owners and general managers and make them more aware of the minorities out there who are looking for opportunities in baseball."
Robinson said the commissioner had extended an invitation to meet several months ago and that their talk was set for yesterday primarily because Robinson is in town for the Orioles' series with the New York Yankees.