The Red Sox won their ninth World Series Championship this past October, tying them with the Philadelphia/ Oakland Athletics for the third most World Series wins since its inception in 1903. Cora joined previous Red Sox winning managers Jimmie Collins, Jake Stahl, Ed Barrow, Terry Francona, and John Farrell in their esteemed company. Cora is not only the first non-white Red Sox manager to win a World Series, but also the first non-white manager in the team's 118 year history.
Jackie Robinson spoke briefly prior to game two of the 1972 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland Athletics. During what turned out to be his last public appearance (he died just nine days later on October 24th), Robinson reminded Major League Baseball that no team had, to that point, ever hired a black manager. This point of contention almost led Jackie to decline the invitation to speak at the World Series, one which represented the 25 year anniversary of Robinson integrating the game (in 1947) for the first time since 1884. Robinson's plea was for there to be a black face in the third base coaching box as a manager of a MLB baseball team. About two years to the day, the Cleveland Indians hired Frank Robinson, who at that point was still a player, as the first African American manager in MLB history. Larry Doby was hired as manager of the Chicago White Sox on June 30, 1978 to become the second.
Even if history is cyclical, which very often it is, one would not expect every MLB team to immediately follow in the footsteps of the Indians and White Sox. Therefore, it would be a lot to expect every MLB team to have a black manager in more than twelve years. More than twelve years was the time that went by from Jackie Robinson's first game on April 15, 1947 to Red Sox infielder Pumpsie Green's debut on July 21, 1959. The Red Sox were the last of the sixteen MLB teams to officially integrate their ball club.
What would be a fair amount of years for it to take for all MLB teams to have their first black manager? Maybe 20 would be too optimistic. Thirty would take us to 2005, forty to 2015. Surely by then, every team would have had at least one.
The calendar year of 2018 is coming to a close and it is sad to say, baseball is still not there. While most teams have had at least one black manager, technically one third of its league's teams have never had one. That means ten teams (Yes, I am counting the Red Sox) have never had one black manager in the franchise's history. A solid excuse would be MLB's expansion teams of 1977, 1993, and 1998. However, only one of the most recently added six teams (Arizona) has not hired a black manager. Just as sad, three National League teams with roots to the 19th century, have never hired a black manager. Half of the (eight) original American League teams, started in 1901, have never hired a black manager. The top four teams with the most success in the game based off the amount of World Series Championships they have won, the Yankees, Cardinals, Athletics, and Red Sox, all have never hired a black manager.
Maybe there are reasons for it though. According to the Society of American Baseball Research, the number of black MLB players has fluctuated between six and eight percent over the past ten years. While the number was less than one percent in 1947, it rose to a high of 18.7 percent in 1981. It is difficult to expect teams to hire from a pool of former players that simply is not in the same neighborhood of numbers it used to be.
I think of the past couple of generations of players and I remember many that could have made solid managers. The likes of Doug Glanville, Reggie Sanders, Charles Johnson, Terry Pendelton, and Reggie Smith stood out as solid candidates, not to mention Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray. Of course, the players in particular would have to be asked whether this is something they wanted to do, as all for the exception of Pendelton and Smith have not worked as coaches in either the minor or major leagues. During the early part of the 1980's, baseball had the highest percentage of African American players it ever had. The latter part of the decade should have been the time where baseball had the highest percentage of black managers.
Unfortunately, there have never been more than two or three African American managers at a time in MLB. The National Football League had a problem with this issue for years before starting the Rooney Rule in 2003, requiring every NFL team with a coaching or executive vacancy to interview at least one African American candidate. This eventually grew to include all minorities. While this can clearly be done without good taste, the amount of minority head coaches and executives has grown over the past 15 years. At this moment, baseball has only one black manager, Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cora, Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez, and Rick Renteria of the Chicago White Sox are the only Hispanic managers in the game. That means just 3.33 % of all managers in baseball are black and 13.33 % of all managers are minorities.
What seems to be the most disappointing about this is the fact that this issue is not being spoken about. During a casual conversation, it may be brought up. Professional baseball has been in existence since 1876 (1871 if you choose to count the National Association, the predecessors to the National League, and there are technically as many as ten teams that have never had an African American MLB manager. Cora in Boston is of Puerto Rican descent, and the St. Louis Cardinals employed Mike Gonzalez as manager for parts of the 1938 and 1940 seasons. Gonzalez is Cuban and the first Cuban manager in MLB history. Is it too much to ask for Boston, who has had a team since 1901; and the Cardinals, who have been in the National League since 1882, to have employed at least one black manager? Once again, the Braves (Atlanta, through Boston via Milwaukee) who started in 1876, the Phillies (started out as the Quakers in 1883) and the American League's Yankees (the Baltimore Orioles in 1901-1902- a completely separate franchise), Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins (the Washington Senators through 1960), and Red Sox- all of whom founding fathers of the American League, have never had a black manager. Is it time we discussed this issue more? It has been 43 years since Frank Robinson became MLB's first, how come ten teams have never had one?