The death of George Floyd in police custody and the ensuing protests have made people look outward, toward protests in all 50 states, and inward, questioning what can be done in a world where racism is both so open and so covert.
For the Giants, the most important element has been listening. They want to hear stories, they want to hear feedback, they want to hear from minority groups that are not heard from enough.
Thursday, the entire organization — Larry Baer estimated 450-500 people, from front-office members to minor leaguers to coaches — hopped on a Zoom call that, after introductory remarks from the CEO and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, was opened up to the field, to anyone who wanted to and could talk about what they have been through, what they have survived.
“It was extremely powerful to hear stories,” Baer said on “Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks” on Thursday. “… The number of African-American employees that have been stopped for no reason. The stories that were shared. You think of players, former players, who were in minor league towns across the country, not just in the South. Some of the things that have occurred. They were powerful stories.
“At least for our organization, we need to listen, we need to learn and then take action. Do some things as an organization that maybe we haven’t done as actively or as proactively as we’ve done in the past. I know that there’s a commitment there. We don’t pretend to have all the answers either. We don’t want to make it sound like we do. If everybody, every company and every individual puts their efforts together, we can get to a better place as a society.”
Listening, while not easy, is a bit simplistic and does not offer tangible steps toward progress. Baer, fortunately, did offer some concrete examples of what the Giants plan to do to help.
He pointed toward the academy the team wants to open for “young African-American athletes who might not have the resources,” Baer said. Still no word on where exactly that would be, Baer saying they’ve got a couple possibilities in mind.
That’s for kids. How about older folks who want to crack into an executive world in baseball that is dominated by white people?
“We have to create a pipeline, we have to get a diverse population of executives and obviously managers and coaches into the system earlier than we do,” said Baer, who added he wanted more training programs to ensure minorities have more opportunities. “We can’t just depend on an individual who maybe was a great player, former player, then all of a sudden becomes a general manager.”
That’s for the future. For now, there are Zoom meetings, people opening up, and everyone else opening ears.
“There were several major league players, several minor league [players], former coaches, African-American members of the Giants organization,” Baer said. “… They felt it was a safe place to share. That’s what we’ve gotta do. When you walk into a clubhouse, and let’s say you’re a young African-American player that’s just made it to the major leagues out of the minor leagues, that you feel a level of comfort that maybe wasn’t there 20, 30 years ago, 10 years ago, or even this year, last year. It’s gotta be the ability to feel safe in that environment.”