Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers have a long history as a trailblazing organization, but minority involvement throughout baseball as a whole long has lacked.
MLB, the Dodgers and other teams have launched various initiatives over recent years to better connect with young athletes at an early age, and that’s an area of emphasis for Chris Archer as well.
Archer recently was hired into the Dodgers front office as a special assistant this offseason, and is expected to take on a variety of roles.
During an appearance on “Foul Territory,” the former Tampa Bay Rays ace discussed his desire for more Black youth to become baseball players:
“I would love to see more representation, but I do understand it takes time for these things to happen. One thing that I love to talk about are the initiatives. The RBI program, the Dream Series that was just this last weekend, the amount of Black American players that have been getting drafted the last several years, kind of shows MLB’s investment into the community, the seeds are starting to be planted and we’re seeing some fruit from those.
“I like to lean into those ideas more and I think MLB is doing a good job. Obviously, MLK means a lot to the United States. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re in a much better place than they were in the ’50s and ’60s when he was doing his campaigning, his march and his speeches.
“I can’t say I’m satisfied with the state of Black Americans in baseball, but I can see a nice trajectory going forward.”
Archer acknowledged improving representation is an uphill battle because of the popularity with basketball and football:
“That’s something I’ve thought about a lot. I don’t know if there’s an answer. I think making the game cooler is helping. Whenever I used to backpedal off the mound and kiss my bicep, people would get upset. But now things like that are celebrated, which makes it cooler.
“But I’ll say this, it’s always going to be a challenge because with basketball and football, there’s more instant gratification. You go to a D1 college and your games are on national television on the weekend. If you go to a D1 college in baseball, unless you have the SEC Network, you’re not really nationally broadcast. It’s more regional, like the game of baseball itself. So it’s always going to be a challenge because I think a lot of people get enamored with that instant gratification.”
The Dodgers take a proactive approach in underserved communities through their Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation renovating and constructing Dreamfields throughout Southern California.
In 2015, Dave Roberts became the first minority manager in Dodgers franchise history. Roberts later became the second African-American manager to win a World Series, joining Cito Gaston and the first of Asian heritage to accomplish the feat.
Though in Roberts’ eyes, baseball participation extends beyond being Black. That was a sentiment he expressed on Jackie Robinson Day during the 2023 season.
“Jackie wasn’t about just people of color. It was about people of all races being created equal and given the same opportunities,” Roberts said.
“Whether you’re Shohei (Ohtani), myself, Ichiro (Suzuki), (Francisco) Lindor or Mookie Betts, it doesn’t matter. It’s allowing people to be judged on their abilities. That gave Asian-Americans, Asians, Latin Americans, South Americans, African-Americans, the opportunity be judged on their talent. That’s what he wanted.
“And then it sort of bleeds into people being able to go to school together. You look at Marcus Stroman, he got a chance to go to Duke University. If the Jim Crow laws and segregation wasn’t eliminated, he wouldn’t have had a chance to go to Duke. So this goes on and on. That’s why I’m really passionate about that.
“And it’s not just about Blacks and it’s not just about baseball. It’s so much beyond that.”
Chris Archer values versatility
The Dodgers are allowing Archer to get involved in multiple areas of the organization, which he is appreciative of and looking to capitalize on during his time in the front office.
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