Written By: Myles Watkins
The first African-American manager to lead the LA Dodgers to a World Series.
As the 2017 MLB Playoffs begins its finale with the World Series starting on Oct. 24, one storyline the African-American community may want to take notice of has been flying under the radar for much of the playoffs. The Los Angeles Dodgers were led by the fourth Black MLB manager, Dave Roberts, to ever take a team to the World Series and the first Black manager in the Dodgers organizational history.
Roberts played in the MLB from 1999-2008, Dave spent seven out of his 11 seasons playing in the National League West division split between the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants. After Roberts’ playing years, he began his journey as a base and bench coach, leading to his selection as the Los Angeles Dodgers manager in 2016.
“It’s hard for me to put into words what it means to be named manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers,” said Roberts. “This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime.”
While taking advantage of this opportunity, Roberts has led the Dodgers to the National League Championship series in 2016, before falling to the Chicago Cubs. The next year, Dodgers’ manager led them to the current World Series with the league’s best record at 104-58.
Black representation in the MLB has been decreasing in recent decades. Black players (none of which play catcher or third base) only represent 8% of the total baseball players in the majors today compared to the 18% seen in the 1986 season, according to USA Today.
Although there are many similarly complected men such as retired first baseman David Ortiz and New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman that may look African-American, they nor anyone consider themselves as Black men as they routinely represent for their Latin culture.
To put this all into perspective, African-Americans make of 14% of the population, according to the 2010 United States census. But along with only having four African-American managers ever to make it to a World Series we also see that there have only been nine total Black United States Senators, ever.
Although Out of the nine total black senators, seven have won their seats within the past 25 years as we saw Kamala Harris round out that group in 2016, the disproportionate representation in the Senate is still evident.
Similarly, the last 25 years has seen all four Black World Series managers represented as Cito Gadson started the movement with back to back championships with the Toronto Blue Jays in from 1992-93. Although the last black manager to make the World series was Ron Washington in 2011 with the Texas Rangers in 2011, there is no guarantee that Roberts’ appearance signifies more to come.
Whether you watch the series to favor a victory for one team or another, the opportunity to experience Roberts as managing during the pinnacle of the MLB season is a victory for the black community.