Last week the Philadelphia Phillies celebrated the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in major league baseball. All of the Phillies players wore Robinson’s number 42 to honor the anniversa. This is a far cry from how they celebrated the 10th anniversary of this occasion – by becoming the last National League team to field an African-American player. Move forward 50 years and the Phillies have moved forward somewhat. In a league where there are teams that don’t have one African-American, two of their premier players and team leaders, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are African-American. Their closer Tom Gordon is also African-American. They have also been one of the leading teams in working to bring baseball back to the inner city. With all this progress I wonder if it stops at the field. I wonder this because when I went to their website recently they were promoting their ballgirls (their term, not mine) and I noticed that out of 14 members, not one woman of color. How can this be in a city that is 43% African-American, that not one person on this squad is?
The Phillies and major league baseball have spoken about how they want more African-American customers and players, but you have to wonder, if we’re not welcome as employees, should we support the team with our dollars. The thing to remember is that this squad is arbitrarily chosen and it makes sense to make sure that it is indicative of the city you represent.
As a fan of the Phillies, I’m going to hope that this is an oversite on their part. It’s easy to overlook something like this. But I can promise you that I will be watching them closely when I do attend a game. Are the jobs for African-Americans only in concessions? What about management? The Phillies have never had an African-American manager – matter of fact, all of their managers and GMs have been as lily white as the 1947 Phillies were.
Makes you wonder if they truly get it.