MLB hits a home run on diversity with new Latino umpires
Mexico's Alfonso Márquez is MLB's first Latino crew chief, while Ramon De Jesus becomes its first full-time Dominican umpire.
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There are winds of change sweeping Major League Baseball as the league has just announced some new and more diverse additions to its umpire staff.
Zacatecas-born Alfonso Márquez (47) started umping in the majors in 1999 and since then, has seen a meteoric rise. With three World Series to his name, he is now the first Latino to become a crew chief in the MLB. He joins the late Jim McKean, a native of Canada, as the second foreigner to ever hold the position.
Also, Dominican Ramón De Jesús (36), who's been a minor league umpire since 2009 and began working in major league spring training four years ago, was named a full-time umpire. The two appointments show the efforts of the organization to expand its pool of professionals that are racial minorities.
In addition to Márquez, umpire Kerwin Danley, will be the MLB's first black crew chief. According to the AP, there are only a dozen umpires of color in the league.
Danley is an outlier in his field. His major league umpire career began in 1992 and he's umped in the 2008 and 2018 World Series. He also played baseball in college and was named an All-American in 1983.
You may not know his name unless you're a baseball fan, but he was the first black umpire in the Major Leagues in 1966, paving the way for the rest.
However, Emmett Ashford's beginnings, as you can imagine, were not easy...
"I had trouble getting into the stadium," he said in a 1977 interview about his first game. The Secret Service had increased security because Vice President Hubert Humphrey was throwing out the first pitch. When Ashford took the field and introduced himself as an umpire, the response was, "I'm sorry, there are no black umpires in the major leagues."
"Well," he said, "there will be a black umpire if you let me in."
Ashford also said he was proud to have umped in the Major Leagues, not because he was the first African-American to do so, but because he belonged to a "very select group of men.
"The biggest satisfaction I've gotten is the feeling that I've accomplished what I set out to do when everyone told me it couldn't be done," he said.