Jesse Jackson Outlines Boycott : Baseball: Schott case provides him a platform to call for improvement in minority hiring.


The Rev. Jesse Jackson met with major league baseball owners Tuesday and offered details of his plan to organize a boycott of games, starting with the opening of the season, unless the owners take steps to improve their minority hiring practices.

The meeting marked the first face-to-face encounter between Jackson and Marge Schott, owner of the Cincinnati Reds, who has been accused of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks.

Jackson, former Democratic presidential candidate and founder of the national Rainbow Coalition, established the Rainbow Commission for Fairness in Athletics as a result of the Schott allegations.


His presentation Tuesday was part of a regularly scheduled meeting of the owners of all 28 major league teams. He spoke briefly with Schott after the presentation, which was closed to the media.

Jackson has called for boycotts of games involving teams that do not have plans for affirmative action in place by opening day in early April. He has also called on President-elect Clinton to support such boycotts by refusing to throw out the first ball during opening-day ceremonies.

According to figures compiled by Jackson’s commission, only 3.9% of all major league executives and department heads are black. His data also indicate that only 8% of all major league front-office employees are black.

Speaking at a news conference after his meeting with the owners, Jackson said he told the owners that his commission will “profile” all major league franchises to see how they are dealing with minority hiring and other matters, including providing opportunities to female and minority vendors of baseball-related merchandise.

Bud Selig, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and chairman of major league baseball’s executive council, would only say that Jackson made a “very sensitive and reasoned statement.”

Jackson, who met informally with Selig and other club executives at the baseball winter meetings last month in Louisville, Ky., said he also asked the owners Tuesday to establish internships in their front offices for minorities and to sponsor youth baseball leagues in the inner cities.


“Mr. Selig and the owners want to meet soon as a follow-up,” Jackson said. “I made it clear that we have met enough. The time for change is this spring. The hope is for each team to have an affirmative action plan. Those that do not (have such plans) face community resistance.

“We will resist them at the turnstiles. We will resist them at Congressional hearings and city hearings until they do.”

Jackson said his commission will meet next month in Washington to organize task forces in every major league city.

George W. Bush, the Texas Rangers’ managing partner and President Bush’s eldest son, said he told Jackson that the Rangers have been involved in the construction of youth baseball facilities in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

“I think we need to tell Jesse, ‘Hey, here is what we’re doing in baseball, but it’s not enough. How can you help us?’ ” Bush said. “But we’re not going to fake it.”

Jackson also used his news conference to promote National League President Bill White, who is black, for the job of baseball commissioner.


White, however, repeated Tuesday that he has no interest in the position, which has been vacant since the forced resignation of Fay Vincent last September.

As for the Schott situation, Jackson said he told the Cincinnati owner that he is not looking at baseball’s treatment of minorities solely in terms of her alleged statements.

Jackson reiterated his view that the behavior of other baseball owners is “essentially the same” as that attributed to Schott. He added that the owners are “paralyzed” in dealing with the Schott situation because “she has made the demand that they all be judged by the same yardstick.”

The owners have formed a four-member investigative committee to deal with the matter. Schott is expected to appear before the committee at a Jan. 22 hearing.

Jackson said he told the owners that Schott must be removed or suspended from baseball for a period of time, “at the least.”

Schott could not be reached for comment after Tuesday’s meeting.

In addition, Jackson called on major league players to end their “silence” in regard to the Schott matter. “My appeal is for the players to let their dignity go beyond the playing field,” he said.