BOSTON — Major League Baseball has four managers who are minorities. And, in the first bit of history the 2018 World Series will make, two of them are facing off for baseball’s ultimate prize.
Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox are the first two minority managers to meet in the World Series in baseball history. Cora being here also represents the first time a Puerto Rican has managed in the World Series.
Make no mistake: This is significant in a sport that, in recent years, has had so few minority managers that you could count them on one hand.
“This game of baseball, it’s great in any language,” said Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez, who is Puerto Rican. “This shows you the game is moving in a great direction.”
“It’s definitely good for baseball,” said Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts.
Four minority managers is actually a lot when you compare it to two in 2015. But four out of 30 isn’t anywhere close to representative of a game in which 42.5 percent of players were minorities in 2018 and only 13.3 percent of managers were. In 2009, there 10 minority managers in MLB, which seems like a lot, but it still wasn’t representative of the league as a whole. And the number has slowly dropped since then.
So it says something that two out of the four meet here in the World Series. And Dave Roberts, who is half-black and half-Japanese and who doesn’t go out of his way to talk about it, even acknowledged this as significant.
“I don’t take a whole lot of time thinking about it,” Roberts said Monday. “But when I do, as in right now, it’s special. And it’s not about myself or Alex, just to see minorities get opportunities and perform and do well, I think that gives opportunities for others. So there’s a responsibly that I know that Alex shares and I do, to do things the right way and be good leaders. Up to this point, I think we’ve done a pretty good job. But I hope more minorities get opportunities, certainly.”
Before Roberts took the Dodgers to the World Series last year, there were only three black managers who had — Cito Gaston, who was the first to win a World Series with the Blue Jays in 1992, and then won another in 1993. Ron Washington and Dusty Baker managed in the World Series too. Ozzie Guillen, who is from Venezuela, was the first Latino manager in the World Series when he won with the Chicago White Sox in 2005.
“I’m proud to be here,” Cora said. “I’m proud representing not only all the Puerto Ricans that live in the island, but Puerto Ricans all around the world. We know what happened last year [with Hurricane Maria]. It was a tough one. As a country, we’ve done an outstanding job fighting. We’re standing up on our own two feet. I know there’s a lot of people back home they’re proud of me, of what I’ve done throughout the year. But I’m proud of them.”
And minority players on both sides were happy to see their skippers make history. But the kumbaya spirit of it all only goes so far.
“It’s great,” said Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. “It shows how far the game and the sport have come.”
“That’s something special,” said Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, “but I hope our guy comes out on top.”
And for Hernandez, a very proud Puerto Rican, he’s happy to see Cora — who won a ring last year against the Dodgers as the bench coach of the Houston Astros — become the first Puerto Rican manager in the World Series. But that’s where it ends.
“Alex was on the other side last year and I got to see it,” Hernandez said. “I’m OK if he has to wait a year or two more before he gets his first [ring] as a manager.”
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