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MLB QUESTIONS ESPN'S MINORITY FIGURES; SHOW REVIEWS MIXED
Published April 16, 1998
Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said baseball's minority hiring practices are better than what was portrayed during ESPN's Town Meeting on Tuesday, "Race & Sports: Running in Place?," according to USA TODAY's Tom Weir. Selig: "While Major League Baseball wasn't the focus of the meeting, I thought there were some unwarranted shots taken, particularly by those that were not aware of the facts." During the discussion, Joe Morgan criticized the low number of black scouts in MLB. But MLB Dir of PR Rich Levin cited an in-house survey that showed 24.64% of MLB's scouts are minorities and that minorities account for 20.5% of MLB's front-office presence. ESPN "declined to divulge its minority-hiring numbers" (USA TODAY, 4/16). TOWN MEETING REVIEWS: In Dallas, Kevin Blackistone writes that ESPN "deserves credit for bringing the discussion to prime time," but calls the 11-member panel's makeup "as stereotypical as the discussion." He notes that all the black participants were athletes or former athletes and all the white participants either owners or execs. He adds that the panel should have included either Northeastern Univ.'s Richard Lapchick or Univ. of CA-Berkeley's Harry Edwards (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/16). In DC, Leonard Shapiro calls the panel "cumbersome" and adds that there "were no bold initiatives offered, no battle plan to attack" the problems of racism that were discussed (WASHINGTON POST, 4/16). In San Jose, Ann Killion said the "flawed" panel "yielded little of substance and broke little ground" (MERCURY NEWS, 4/16). In Sacramento, R.E. Graswich wrote the event was "predictably long on timid rhetoric and self- congratulatory blather. ... It was compelling for no more than a couple of minutes" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/15). But in Orange County, Jeff Miller credited ESPN for the production and added, "This talk was healthy for no other reason than the fact it was happening, it was live and right there in your living room" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/15). In Philadelphia, Mike Bruton says ESPN's telecast led to a "productive evening because millions of viewers got a chance to hear civilized discussion of a complicated and highly charged issue" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/16). CYBER-POLL: ESPN SportsZone surveyed browsers in its special section on "Race & Sports," linked off the site's homepage. When asked, "How much more aggressive should teams be in hiring qualified black coaches?," 57.5% said somewhat more, 20.3% said much more, 14.1% said somewhat less, 7.9% said much less. 2,049 voted (SportsZone, 4/16).