MLB announces Diversity Fellowship Program

Major League Baseball announced the launch of its MLB Diversity Fellowship Program, which is seeking applicants from now through Nov. 17 as a new approach to widen the talent pool of future industry leaders and build on the legacy of trailblazers like Jackie Robinson.

"This new initiative is one of our most significant efforts to recruit the most talented array of diverse individuals who are interested in pursuing a long-term career in baseball," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "The opportunity will be beneficial to young men and women throughout the United States and beyond considering paths within our game.

"As an organization, we believe that the diversity of our workforce, which includes different perspectives and creative thought, leads to a stronger and more effective operation. Additionally, the national pastime's history of trailblazing leadership inspires us to ensure that every opportunity for employment is afforded to those who wish to work within our game."

This "competitive" opportunity will place candidates in entry-level roles within one of the MLB clubs and MLB's Central Office in New York. The club-based program will be an 18-to-24-month commitment in a front office or baseball operations role at one of the clubs around the country participating in the program.

Additionally, MLB will offer three entry-level fellowships with a rotational, three-year phase opportunity to: (1) two years in baseball operations, focusing on international operations and scouting, umpiring and on-field rules and regulations; and (2) one year working within the league economics department.

The MLB Diversity Fellowship Program is open to people of color and female candidates. Applicants must be recent graduates (no more than 24 months post-graduation) with either a bachelor's or master's degree or a related advanced degree.

For those candidates interested in the Club Fellowship Program, a commitment of at least 18 months of employment is required at any participating club in which you are placed. Exact locations are up to the discretion of MLB and participating clubs. Candidates interested in the Office of the Commissioner Fellowship Program must commit to at least three years of employment located in New York City.

"This fellowship is unique and special because it's the first foray for us into making a dedicated initiative around really changing the pipeline, to include more people of color and women, especially in the Office of the Commissioner and the club side," said Renee Tirado, MLB's vice president of talent acquisition. "We're looking at the future, we're looking at the business and we know we have to be cutting-edge to get the best talent possible.

"While this is not a one-and-done, this is going to be a lot more robust than we have done in the past. I'm excited that we're doing it this way in such a deliberate and well-thought-out fashion. The fact that I have so much support from the Commissioner and the clubs, it makes a huge difference. This is a top-down approach, so I'm excited."

When asked what happens after the fellowship period ends, Tirado said, "If they deliver on their parts, I can't imagine clubs won't want to keep them. They'll have to put in the time and the work. Baseball is here, and we're ready for all of them.

"This is going to be competitive. These are going to be candidates who have an understanding for the game and want to take it to the next level. The onus is on both sides of the equation to make sure they do well, that we support them along the way. It's not an easy business. The only way to learn is to be in the business of baseball. There's not a book you can pick up and learn."

Manfred cited the legacies left by such diverse baseball officials as Bill Lucas, Bob Watson, Tony Reagins, Jean Afterman, Kim Ng, Ken Williams, Michael Hill, Al Avila and Farhan Zaidi. Club executives praised the new program, citing the positive impact on front offices strategically while also upholding a responsibility to build on the legacy established by pioneers.

"MLB's Diversity Fellowship Program is a tremendous opportunity to expose and educate our future leaders to what it takes to operate within our great game," said Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "I am hopeful that the program will provide opportunities for more women and people of color to build a foundation and legacy that will impact our game from front office and baseball operations leadership roles for many years to come."

"In my 16 seasons as an assistant GM at the Yankees, I have been fortunate to speak with many, many young people about jobs in Major League Baseball front office operations," said Afterman, the Yankees' senior vice president and assistant GM. "When I speak with women, the response has usually been that, 'I didn't think there was any chance for me there.' MLB's Diversity Fellowship Program not only highlights that there is, and should always have been, a place for women in baseball operations front offices, but more so, that Major League Baseball is committed to creating front offices that are places where women and diverse candidates can find meaningful work and enhance our sport in the process."

"Everyone with the Detroit Tigers, especially me, is thrilled to be participating in the Diversity Fellowship Program," said Avila, Detroit's executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager. "As a general manager of Cuban decent, I have a first-hand perspective of how impactful diversity can be to an organization. We enjoy a community comprised of many different backgrounds and ideas here in Detroit, and we do our best to identify the best talent for the front office, player development, scouting and major and minor league coaching staffs."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him on Twitter @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.