Major League Baseball has created a task force to study why the number of African-Americans playing the sport has declined in recent years, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The 17-member committee, which will be chaired by Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski, will hold its first meeting in Milwaukee on Wednesday. He'll be joined by several other baseball executives, plus Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir; Frank Marcos, senior director of baseball's scouting bureau; and former White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel.
African-Americans accounted for 8.5 percent of players on active Opening Day rosters this season and several teams had none, according to the Times. The story quoted research by Mark Armour of the Society of American Baseball Research indicating that the highest number ever, 19 percent, occurred in 1986.
"I don't want to miss any opportunity here," Commissioner Bud Selig told the Times. "We want to find out if we're not doing well, why not and what we need to do better. We'll meet as many times as we need to to come to meaningful decisions.
"I really think our history is so brilliant when it comes to African-Americans. You think about the late 1940s, the 1950s -- wow. And you look at that and you say to yourself, 'Why did it not continue, and what could we do to make sure it does continue?'"
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.