DETROIT – St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol didn’t realize there were no Latino general managers left in Major League Baseball after the Detroit Tigers fired Al Avila.
Marmol himself is one of only three Latino on-field managers, along with Boston's Alex Cora and Washington's Dave Martinez. There were four when the season started, but the Toronto Blue Jays fired Charlie Montoyo last month.
“That’s outrageous," Marmol said Thursday, when going over the short list of Latino managers.
While roughly 29% of the players on big league rosters to start this season were Latino or Hispanic, and the percentage of coaches was just a tick higher, that hasn't translated to similar numbers in management positions on and off the field for the 30 MLB teams.
Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny was aware of Avila's firing, but like Marmol was unaware that Avila was baseball's only Latino GM.
“He had a great run. He’s a good baseball man,” Matheny said. "Certainly, we have at least one third of our players are Latino. I know how valuable it is to have that connection in our clubhouse and with our staff. You can see the need to have representation in leadership.”
Asked how that could change, he responded, "That’s a great question. I don’t know.”
With Avila out after seven years as Detroit's GM, MLB has even fewer minorities in leading front-office positions.
Chicago White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams is the only Black leader of baseball operations for any club, Miami Marlins GM Kim Ng is the only woman and Asian-American in that role, and San Francisco Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who is of Pakistani descent, is the only Muslim.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida in May released its annual study of diversity hiring in MLB. The report said of 975 big league players on April 1, that 278 of them (28.5%) were Hispanic or Latino. That has been at least 25% each year since 1998. The four Latino managers at the beginning of the season matched the most — like the three previous seasons, as well as 2004 and 2011.
Arte Moreno, who has owned the Los Angeles Angels since 2003, is the only Hispanic or Latino majority team owner.
Avila was fired Wednesday by the Tigers, who were in a rebuilding process when he got the job and are still struggling. They haven't been to the playoffs since Avila was promoted to GM on Aug. 4, 2015, after serving as Dave Dombrowski’s assistant.
The 36-year-old Marmol is the youngest manager in the majors, and the youngest for the Cardinals since 1951. The New Jersey native, who traces his lineage to the Dominican Republic, also is only the franchise’s second minority manager.
Marmol has been with the Cardinals organization since being picked in the sixth round of the 2007 amateur draft. He never played above Class A but became a coach and manager in the minors, then joined the Cardinals' big league staff in 2017.
“An important word for me is ‘access.’ For me, I give a lot of credit for being in this seat because of the access I was given,” Marmol said Thursday. "If you look at some of the places I grew up, you’re not exposed to the things you need to be exposed to allow you to have those seats.
“So a lot of it is early-on access to being equipped with a way of thinking, communicating, managing, handling personalities — all of the things that other people, honestly, have access to that a lot of Latin communities don’t,” he said. “I think that’s where it starts.”
AP freelancers Mike Cranston and David Smale contributed to this report.