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MLB, Selig lauded in Racial and Gender Report Card

The 2013 Racial and Gender Report Card, issued annually by The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of South Florida, gave Major League Baseball a grade equal to its highest ever on the issue of racial hiring practices: A.

Richard Lapchick, the director of the institute and the primary author of the study, saluted Commissioner Bud Selig for his efforts in this area.

"As he nears retirement, one of the legacies of [Selig] is that he recognized the need for diversity in baseball long ago," Lapchick wrote in the report, which was released Tuesday. "MLB continues to make real progress in the areas of inclusion and diversity."

Lapchick also complimented Wendy Lewis, MLB's senior vice president for diversity and strategic alliances. "She has helped the Commissioner deliver on his promise," he said.

"I was very pleased to read the results of the 2013 Racial and Gender Report Card by Dr. Richard Lapchick," Selig said in a statement. "Major League Baseball has made important strides in instilling overall diversity throughout our industry, and today's findings illustrate the depth of those efforts.

"We recognize, however, that there is more to accomplish and improve upon. Through our many initiatives, including our new On-Field Diversity Task Force and the MLB Diversity Business Summit, we will continue to prioritize the significance of diversity. While the game has never enjoyed as much diversity as it does today, we will take every appropriate measure to ensure that baseball is at the forefront of diverse and equal-opportunity practices, on and off the field."

For improving gender hiring, baseball was given a C+ for a combined grade of B+ and there were percentage increases in all three categories.

The percentage of African-American players on Opening Day rosters was 8.3 percent, down from 8.9 percent a year ago.

"Although the total number of players of color has steadily risen over the years, there has been a concern in Major League Baseball about the relatively small and declining number of African-American players," Lapchick said. "The concern is shared by leaders of the African-American community. MLB's appointment of a task force to address this is a step in the right direction."

The report gave baseball's "impressive diversity initiatives" an A+.

Some of the other findings:

• There were seven African-American players selected in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the most by total and percentage since 1992.

• There were 241 foreign-born players on rosters representing 15 different countries or territories.

• Magic Johnson, part of the Dodgers' ownership group, is the first African-American to be a majority or minority owner of an MLB team.

• Persons of color account for 39.1 percent of coaches, up 7.9 percent since 2011.

• There are 24 teams with at least one woman vice president, led by the Giants (seven) and Astros and Red Sox (five).

The stated goal of Lapchick's report was to answer the questions: Are we playing fair when it comes to sports? Does everyone, regardless of race or gender, have a chance to play or to operate a team?

The final report encompassed those issues, not only for players and people at the ownership, central office, general manager, managing, coaching, vice president, senior administration and professional administration levels, but also for athletic training levels -- where last year, Susan Falsone of the Dodgers became the sport's first female head trainer.