The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dave Roberts and the Houston Astros’ Dusty Baker are the only two Black managers in Major League Baseball. There are 30 total teams in the National and American League. The low number of Black managers speaks for itself.
“In years past, it would have been, ‘My job is to manage, and everything outside that is not my concern,’” said Roberts during an interview on Jackie Robinson Day this past April 15.
“When you’re talking about African American ballplayers, we need to do better,” Roberts voiced. “I think about it all the time. It’s really getting uncomfortable.” There is an uptick in the number of prominent Black players. It was fitting that the Minnesota Twins Byron Buxton hit the go-ahead home run in the All-Star Game in the top of the fourth inning to give the AL a 3-2 lead right after the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton—who was named the contest’s MVP—blasted a two-run homer to to tie the score at 2-2.
It came on the 100th birthday of Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, who was honored at the game. Buxton, who Black, is one of baseball’s most talented all-around players and Stanton is multi-racial including being of African American descent. The state of Black managers isn’t strong. Only 28 managerial jobs in MLBs long history have gone to Blacks, but the only two in the game today are highly successful.
Baker, 73, the second oldest manager in MLB, is a future Hall of Famer. After a 19-year playing career, Baker started his managerial career in 1993 with the San Francisco Giants. The Astros are the fifth team Baker has managed. The list also includes the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals. In May Baker reached 2,000 career wins, becoming only the 12th manager and first Black manager to reach that milestone.
A three-time National League Manager of the Year, he took over the Astros in 2020 after the firings of manager A.J. Hinch and GM/President of Baseball Operations Jeff Luhnow, resulting from a sign stealing scandal. He has been to two World Series as a manager, in 2002 guiding the Giants and last season with the Astros but has never won a championship.
The 50-year-old Roberts was the 2016 National League Manager of the Year in his first season leading the Dodgers. He had losses in the 2017 and 2018 World Series before finally winning the championship in 2020 with a 4-2 series win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Roberts and Cito Gaston, who piloted the Toronto Blue Jays to the 1993 title, are the only two Black managers to win a World Series in MLB history.
Baker and Roberts have their teams set up to make another title run. The Dodgers came out of the All-Star break 60-30, with a 10-game lead in the National League West and the second best record in MLB. The Astros are 59-32 when play begins today, first in AL West by nine games.