“They [the MCAD] just want to know, since we’re so visible, what we’re doing on this score,” he said. “What they’re saying is put down what you’re telling us in writing and we’re going to hold you to it.”
Harrington said the team currently has six nonwhites on the ground crew, two as ticket sellers and “two or three” as ushers. “A lot of them,” he admitted had been hired since the MCAD brought its complaint. As far as players were concerned, he said he had figures which showed that from 1971 through 1975, the Sox compared favorable to the industry as a whole in the signing of nonwhite players. Harrington said he found our figures on the number of nonwhites on the team since 1959 “hard to believe.” He also said he was surprised at how few nonwhites we found in the top rungs of the team’s minor league system, a finding which he said contradicted information he had on the 1974 season.
“I don’t know,” he said, “where they’ve all gone in two years.”
On the Farm
Howie Haak of the Pittsburgh Pirates is widely regarded as baseball’s leading expert on Latin players. Says fellow scout Milt Bolling of the Red Sox: “Howie’s liable to go down there [Latin countries] and sign what I’d call a boatload.” The results of Haak’s journeys are manifest: the Pittsburgh organization is the least white in baseball, to the point where the Pirate brass reportedly worry that the city might have problems relating to the club. When we talked to Haak about Boston’s record in recruiting Latins, his assessment, at least in terms of the timing of the Sox’s entry into that market, was not favorable.
“I would say they were one of the later teams to become competitive in the Latin countries,” said Haak when we reached him on the road in Charleston, West Virginia. “First, there was the old Washington Senators, but that was strictly in Cuba, then I came along and the Giants. That was in the ‘50s.
“It wasn’t until around ’63 that the Sox came in. Only seven or eight clubs came after that, I’d say.” Haak rattled off eight, of which four – Montreal, San Diego, Kansas City and Milwaukee – were expansion teams that didn’t even come into being until the late ‘60s, and a fifth, Houston, was organized in 1962. Only Chicago (AL), Oakland and Detroit of the original teams – by Haak’s recollection – trailed Boston into the Latin areas.
The first Sox scout seeking Latin players was a popular sports broadcaster who would track down talent in his spare time and be paid on a commission basis. The practice is not uncommon in baseball. It was not until the ‘70s, from all that we can gather, that the Red Sox moved into the Latin countries in a big way, setting up three full-time scouts.
Haak, like most baseball people, was loath to criticize others in his profession (he made a point of praising the Boston team’s famed generosity toward players). But he also said he was unaware of any Latin or black coaches in the Sox farm system, and he added: “We’ve got Latin personnel all though our organization. If you’re gonna sign them, you should have Latin and black coaches.”