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Alex Cora, Dave Roberts On A Collision Course To Boost MLB Diversity

Two of the four minority managers in MLB are on a hunt for history and World Series gold.

Two of the four minority managers in MLB are on a hunt for history and World Series gold.

Jackie Robinson called out MLB for its lack of black managers on Oct. 15, 1972, at Game 2 of the World Series. MLB was commemorating the 25th anniversary of Robinson shattering the color barrier. 

“I am extremely proud and pleased to be here this afternoon,” Robinson said before 53,224 people at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, “but must admit, I am going to be tremendously more pleased and more proud when I look at the third-base coaching line one day and see a black face managing in baseball.”

Robinson died 9 days later. It was his final contribution in a life devoted to ending racism and social oppression in America. 


Not much has changed for managers since Robinson gave his last words. His desire for increased player participation was answered with a golden age for African-American players in the 60s, 70 and 80s. However, his thirst for greater minority representation at the coaching and leadership positions has not been quenched


ChuckModi on Twitter

Hated Dodgers growing up. But must root for David Roberts, MLB’s only Black manager in a racist sport that will only permit mediocrity from white managers. This tweet will kick-off my annual love-hate relationship with playoff baseball amidst owners & execs who ruin a game I love

The MLB playoffs is down to four teams and Alex Cora and Dave Roberts are on an historical collision course. 

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Boston Red Sox rookie skipper Cora is one of three Latino managers in MLB and Roberts is the lone African-American skipper in the game today. Both are on the cusp of making history and the stage is being set for a face off between these two rare minority managers in the World Series. 


The Red Sox dismantled the Yankees in four games in the ALDS and prepare to battle the defending World Champion Houston Astros in Game 1 on Saturday,  in what should be a classic seven-game ALCS matchup. 

Only the Milwaukee Brewers stand in the way of Roberts’ World Series return. After losing in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, the Dodgers begin their NLCS matchup on Friday with sights on the big prize.  


SportsNet LA on Twitter

Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts talks about Manny Machado’s game-changing hits throughout the series & David Freese’s clutch 2-run single in tonight’s win. https://t.co/MzuAcI4erc

Just getting to this point has been a cultural breakthrough for MLB. It shows a slight shift in a diversity problem in leadership positions, that MLB has suffered from for some time despite leagues efforts to diversity the game at every level. 

 Only 29 black managers have been hired since Frank Robinson became MLB’s first full-time black skipper in 1975. Since Cito Gaston’s first of back-to-back World Series championships in 1992-93, just 11 black men have managed various MLB squads: Don Baylor, Dusty Baker, Jerry Manuel, Davey Lopes, Lloyd McClendon, Jerry Royster, Willie Randolph, Cecil Cooper, Ron Washington, Bo Porter, Dave Roberts.

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ESPN on Twitter

On this date in 1975, Frank Robinson became MLB’s first African-American manager. He also hit a home run. So that was a pretty good day.

In 2017, Roberts became the fourth African-American manager to lead a team to the World Series, joining Gaston, Dusty Baker (2002 San Francisco Giants) and Ron Washington (2010 and 2011 Texas Rangers).



If he gets there this year, he’ll be the third black skipper to make to back-to-back World Series. Roberts is also the first World Series manager of Asian heritage as his mother is Japanese-American, making him the second person of Asian descent to manage in the big leagues. Don Wakamatsu was the first when he became Seattle Mariners skipper from 2009-2010.


In 2016, Roberts and Baker engaged in the first Black Knight face off in the MLB postseason. Roberts would defeat Baker in the NLDS and then fall to the eventual World Series champ Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. 

Dusty Baker and Dave Roberts In The Black Knight Faceoff

A Game 5 National League Division Series is always good money as far as drama and entertainment goes. Somebody is going home for the fall and the other squad is joyously advancing to the next round, so last night’s 4-3 Dodgers win over the Washington Nationals was riveting on its own merit.

Houston is the biggest obstacle stopping Cora from becoming the second Latino manager to make a World Series.

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The legendary, charismatic, brazen Ozzie Guillen is the only Latino to win a World Series in MLB history. With the influx of Hispanic influence on baseball culture and its brightest stars hailing from Caribbean islands, the time is now for MLB to start respecting the baseball acumen of Latinos as managers and a victory for Cora is a victory for achieving a diversity at managerial MLB positions that is long overdue. 


ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter

Alex Cora is the fifth manager in MLB history to win 100 games in his first year as manager. Should the Red Sox go at least 10-6 the rest of the way, Cora would pass Ralph Houk (1961 Yankees) for the most wins by a rookie manager in MLB history.

Cora and Roberts’ success coincides with five American League coaching vacancies entering 2019, which could mean that a huge win for MLB managerial diversity is on the horizon. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.