Report shows minority hiring on upswing

June 10, 1994|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Sun Staff Writer

CINCINNATI -- Major-league owners picked a curious place to release their latest report on baseball's record of hiring minorities and women.

Marge Schott's back yard.

Baseball still is smarting from the black eye it suffered last year, when Schott, the earthy owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was exposed for having allegedly uttered racial slurs about black employees. But that embarrassment was put aside yesterday, as officials in town for the owners meetings released a report showing they are making steady progress in their work to hire and promote more minorities.

Cliff Alexander, a Washington-based consultant working for the owners, said 17 percent of employees working in major-league jobs are blacks, Hispanics and Asians, a quantum leap from the 2 percent reported in those jobs seven years ago.

The figure is 20 percent when the work forces of baseball's central offices are included.

Alexander said the numbers put baseball at the forefront of fair hiring practices for all U.S. businesses.

"When you compare baseball to corporate America and the positions held by minorities, baseball wins. By far, these results are better than any major corporate sector you will find," said Alexander.

The club owners made available plenty of numbers to back up their claims. Officials distributed a glossy, 22-page booklet filled with facts explaining the gains, but offering no information about hiring practices of the individual clubs.

Alexander has resisted singling out club owners who have been slow to act, saying it's not the proper way to motivate them.

The report gives one of the most complete pictures yet of how club owners are doing on a range of minority issues. It says of 4,479 baseball employees, 1,005 are women and 884 are minorities. Of the total, 10 percent are Hispanic, 9 percent are black and 1 percent are Asian, the report says.

In much smaller numbers, minorities and women also are showing up in ownership groups, according to the survey. Thirty-one women and six minority members are club owners.

The Orioles' investors group includes one minority, Maryland businessman Roger Blunt, who is black, and two women, tennis star Pam Shriver and Margaret McManus, wife of sportscaster Jim McKay.

None of the 28 clubs has a majority owner who is a member of a minority group. Schott and Jackie Autry of the California Angels are the only women running teams.

Not all the information in the report flattered the owners. The survey showed the clubs have been slow to do business with companies run by minorities and women, and Alexander said he would urge them to improve that record.

Before the report was made public, Alexander presented it to club owners during a morning meeting. Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, who attended the session, said Alexander's talk would prompt him to put together a list of minority employees in the Orioles front office.

Angelos already has given some attention to the issue of Orioles and minorities. Last month, he announced he was severing ties between the club and the African-American Task Force on Professional Sports.

The group, made up of local black legislators and educators, had agreements with previous Orioles owners on ways it would monitor the club's treatment of minorities. Angelos repeated yesterday that he'll make sure the Orioles don't discriminate, but that he isn't interested in reporting to the task force.

"No one is going to be looking over the Orioles' shoulder," Angelos said. "That is a process I find absolutely unacceptable."

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