Baseball may be America’s national pastime, but it is a game that truly belongs to the entire world. The evidence is undeniable.
It is more important than ever that the stories of these players are told by writers and content creators who come from equally diverse backgrounds. That’s why Major League Baseball’s content group and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Department partnered to launch MLB.com’s Diversity Fellowship for this season.
The Content Diversity Fellowship is a nine-month program designed to prepare recent graduates who come from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds for roles in MLB’s Content Department and in the baseball industry at large. The effort to create this program was spearheaded last year by Jesse Sanchez, MLB's director of talent development and diversity outreach for content, and Matthew Meyers, MLB's vice president for content.
“The Content initiative is consistent with the MLB Diversity Pipeline Program, MLB’s Diversity Fellowship Program and the league’s goals to expand pipelines and attract diverse talent to our great game,” Sanchez said. “It’s a priority and a designed effort to diversify the lenses through which the game is viewed, stories are told and content is created.”
This season’s two Content Diversity Fellows are Jesús Cano and Matthew Ritchie. They began their time with MLB in March and have undertaken a series of duties, including game coverage and production during Spring Training and the regular season. They produce newsletters, work closely with MLB.com’s editorial producers, and will have opportunities to assist in the coverage of MLB Jewel Events, such as the 2023 All-Star Game, 2023 Little League Classic, 2023 London Series, and more.
"Getting to cover baseball for MLB.com has been a dream come true,” Cano said.
Cano was born in Mexico but was raised in Pittsburg, Calif. His love for sports grew at the Oakland Coliseum, where he cheered on the A’s. He got his start by covering high school sports at 16 and never looked back. A proud community college product, Cano graduated from Fresno State, where he served as the managing editor of the school’s student newspaper. Before coming to MLB, he worked at the Bay Area News Group as a sports editorial clerk.
“Growing up as the son of two Mexican immigrants, I would have never imagined having those opportunities,” said Cano, who is fluent in English and Spanish and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. “My favorite part of the fellowship has been writing articles about Spanish-speaking players because being able to speak the same language offers the chance to uncover a deeper layer of a story.
“With more diversity in the clubhouses and press boxes, it allows for better storytelling, helping bridge all the cultures that are in MLB through the game."
Ritchie, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists who is also fluent in English and Spanish, grew up in Virginia, watching the Orioles religiously since childhood. He played baseball for four years at Johns Hopkins University and was also one of the sports editors for the campus newspaper. He attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism for graduate school and was a freelance writer for sites such as Baseball Prospectus and Pitchfork prior to joining MLB.
"Baseball content should be representative of the people who love and watch baseball," Ritchie said. "I believe that for a long time, a large swath of the population has been sort of forgotten about. It's important minority baseball fans -- and players, for that matter -- are able to look and see the stories that they may care about are being told and handled with care."
As Cano, Ritchie and future Content Diversity Fellows successfully complete this program, MLB aims to grow their visibility within the industry by placing them directly into hiring pipelines with clubs.
“The Diversity Content Fellowship is a team effort that has provided MLB with immediate results,” said Billy Bean, MLB’s senior vice president of diversity, equity & inclusion. “The vision of our content team and the generous mentorship of Jesse Sanchez have created a collaboration that has already impacted the Office of the Commissioner.
“I am so proud that our DEI team is a part of this programming. MLB will be reaching a broader audience because of the new, fresh perspective of these talented young writers. We are all excited.”