Black players accounted for 10.2 percent of major leaguers last year, the most since the 1995 season.
The sport had reached an all-time low of 8.2 percent in 2007, according to Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. The percentage of black pitchers rose to 5 percent from 3 percent and the percentage of black infielders went up to 9 percent from 7 percent.
"I feel encouraged. It's not a huge leap, but it's a step forward," said Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson. "I think we have to feel encouraged, not only feel encouraged but feel inspired by progress so that we can not only sustain what we have, but work harder to see that we get that number up in future reports."
Baseball received an A for race hiring for the first time in his annual report, which was released yesterday, up from an A- last year. Lapchick cited 10 minority managers at the start of this season, matching the previous high in 2002. There were five African-Americans, four Latinos and one Asian-American.
There were five minority GMs: three African-Americans and two Latinos.
The sport got a B for gender hiring, up from a C+. Its overall grade went up to B+ from B.
Lapchick released the study on Jackie Robinson Day, the 62nd anniversary of when Robinson broke the major- league color barrier.
Said Lapchick: "Bud Selig has led the way on these issues in MLB which achieved this through strong records for race in the commissioner's office, as well as at the levels of manager, coach, general manager and the professional administrators of teams.''