P.J. Phillips introduction post as manager of the Lexington Legends

Where Are the Managers of Color?

For over three years now I have had a certain topic sitting in my note of things to write about. For a while, I avoided the topic because while I thought it was worthwhile, I wasn’t sure if I was the one to write it. Then I kept putting the topic off because I wasn’t sure exactly how to frame it in regards to the unaffiliated baseball world. Ultimately I decided it was best to take a smaller approach and came to the realization that no one in the unaffiliated world had any desire to tackle this particular issue. What I’m talking about are the four largest North American unaffiliated leagues and the very large problem they have with the managerial position and not hiring people of color.

It is fairly obvious with the tiniest amount of research that the four major North American unaffiliated leagues have a major problem when it comes to hiring managers of color. I’m not writing this article to cry about the individual teams or leagues as being racist. However, racism is the end result when the hiring practices used by the four leagues have resulted in only two of the currently occupied 44 managerial spots being people of color. That’s not good, no matter how you look at it, only 22% of currently filled spots being a person of color does not point to good hiring practices being in place in the year 2022.

Before we go further, a quick breakdown of the four large North American unaffiliated leagues. They are the American Association, Atlantic League, Frontier League, and Pioneer League. The American Association consists of 12 teams and not one of those teams currently has a manager of color. The Atlantic League has two managers of color out of ten possible spots. The Frontier League is the biggest of the four leagues and while their temporary traveling team has not yet named a manager the other 15 teams do not sport a single manager of color. Last, but not least, there is the Pioneer League. The Pioneer League has eight teams, with two more on the way who have yet to name a manager, and only one of those eight teams has a manager of color.

In the world we live in now I shouldn’t have to write that the Lexington Legends, of ALPB, and the Rocky Mountain Vibes, of the Pioneer League, are the only two teams in all of major North American unaffiliated ball who have managers of color. (The Staten Island FerryHawks did name Edgardo Alfonzo as their manager while this article was being written, which brings the total to three). The Legends’ P.J. Phillips is in his second year at the helm and the same is true of the Vibes’ Eddie Dennis. In the case of Dennis, he was a midseason replacement last year, taking the place of another manager of color, Matías Carrillo.

There’s no reason that this is a conversation we should be having. Unfortunately, it is likely a conversation we are going to be having over and over again. Major League Baseball and the affiliated minors get their fair share of flack for their respective lack of hiring of managers of color. The unaffiliated leagues, at least the major North American ones, fly under the radar. They are just as bad, if not worse when it comes to their non-hiring of managers of color and yet no one seems to care. Dennis and Phillips should not be exceptions to the white wall of managers in these leagues. It certainly should not be the case that anyone covering these leagues knows that it’s the same white candidates on a perpetual hiring and firing cycle. If managers of color aren’t largely being considered and there are no bylaws or apparatuses in place to ensure they are even granted an interview then how are things ever supposed to change?

Maybe the teams currently without managers will hire candidates of color, but that isn’t typically how this goes. Even if they do, it leaves all four leagues with plenty of ground to be made up when it comes to the issue of hiring managers of color. One thing remains true of the large North American unaffiliated baseball leagues in the year 2022; it’s a white man’s world and everyone else is just living in it, qualifications be damned.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Lexington Legends

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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