Less than a week after it celebrated the breaking of the color barrier on Jackie Robinson Day, Major League Baseball again received high grades for its racial diversity from the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.
For the 2011 season, MLB was given an overall grade of B-plus, receiving an A for racial diversity in hiring -- the same as last year -- and a B-minus for gender -- down from a B in 2010 -- in the report issued on Thursday.
"Jackie Robinson's dream was to see more African-Americans playing, coaching and in the front office," said the program's director, Richard Lapchick. "While this year there has been a slight decrease in the grade for racial and gender hiring practices, there has been a long-term consistent and dramatic increase in the role of people of color and women regarding who runs the game."
The continuous success in diversity for baseball comes at a time when its African-American presence on the field is down. The percentage of black players dropped from 10 percent at the start of last season to 8.5 percent on Opening Day this year, according to the report.
The decline of African-American players in baseball is an issue MLB has taken concerted efforts to try to reverse, with initiatives such as the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and the Urban Youth Academies, which promote baseball to young players in urban areas, and events that commemorate African-American history, such as the annual Jackie Robinson Day on April 15 and the Civil Rights Game, to be held next month in Atlanta.
It's a topic some of the game's greatest stars have spoken about, too.
"I just want [African-Americans] to be part of this great game," Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said recently.
UCF's report also gave MLB's central office an A-plus for racial diversity and an A-minus for gender diversity.
Meanwhile, the number of Latin players in the game dropped from 28.4 percent to 27 percent, the number of black and Latino coaches dropped from 31 to 29 percent, and black and Latino general managers dropped from five to four.
"MLB has made great strides with diversity in who runs the game, and today is one of the best in sports." Lapchick said.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.