MLB Starts Diversity Fellowships for Women, People of Color

by: Ronald Blum AP Baseball Writer
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NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is starting a diversity fellowship program and will place about 20 selected candidates with teams and three with the sport’s central office.

Applications, limited to people of color and women, can be submitted from Friday through Nov. 17 and the individuals selected will be announced in April. People eligible include those who have earned a bachelor’s, master’s or related advanced degree within the last two years. The club program involves an 18-month commitment and the central office fellowships run for three years, including two in baseball operations and one in the league economics department.

“We knew we have to be a lot more deliberate on how we design a program,” said Renee Tirado, MLB’s vice president of talent acquisition, diversity & inclusion. “Diversity inclusion is an agenda for many organizations, so our competition is stiff.”

Among professional positions in MLB’s central office, 12.1 percent of employees were African-American, 10.2 percent Latino, 4.3 percent Asian and 29.3 percent women, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida said in April. Among team professional administration, 21.9 percent were people of color and 28.1 percent women, the report said.

“The fellowship program is a coordinated approach by MLB to recruit diverse graduating students at universities throughout the United States by offering them the opportunity to compete for a prestigious fellowship in the front office of an MLB club,” MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said. “The goal is to attract individuals who would not otherwise consider an MLB career without the structure and benefits offered by the fellowship program.”

The MLB economics department is considered a track toward high club positions in baseball administration. Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak and Milwaukee general manager David Stearns are among the former economics department employees who have moved to clubs.

Stearns is a Harvard graduate and Klentak a Dartmouth graduate after captaining the baseball team.

“Obviously we’re looking for the best and the brightest talent that’s available to us, but we recognize that that’s not just limited to the top 10 schools or Ivy League schools,” Tirado said. “We have probably a list of easily over 600 schools that we’re reaching out to, career services department, their diversity department, connecting with affinity networks within the university and college systems to make sure that we’re targeting the audience that we want to engage.”

Baseball and teams in recent years have sought people with economics and business degrees.

“Those are definitely degrees that we are encouraging to apply,” Tirado said. “We’re open to all candidates of any degrees or disciplines. There are a ton of young adults and professionals out there who are really, really smart, who have a tremendous amount of baseball acumen who might be a psychology major. So if can marry it the right way, and it aligns with what the clubs and the front office and the Office of the Commissioner is looking for, we’re not adverse to other disciplines.”

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