Cubs Will Form Diversity Committee to ‘Set Better Standards,’ Says Theo Epstein

Chicago Cubs' President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein talks with the media during the team's annual convention Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Matt Marton/Associated Press

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein revealed the team will form a diversity committee in an effort to “set better standards” after the May 25 killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. 

“I’ve hired a black scouting director, [a] farm director in the past, but the majority of people that I’ve hired, if I’m being honest, have similar backgrounds as me and look a lot like me,” Epstein told reporters Monday. “That’s something I need to ask myself why. I need to question my own assumptions, my own attitudes. I need to find a way to be better.”

Epstein also highlighted the low percentage of black players in the league—7.7 percent in 2019—and pointed to the need for change across the sport:

“It’s alarming, just the trend of black players in the big leagues over the last several decades, that we need to address and address it at the youth level, as well,” he said. “Major League (Baseball) has done a ton of outreach and has really invested in a lot of diversity programs, but it’s a complicated problem with no, one easy solution.

“To the extent that the clubhouses are not a welcome enough place for black players, we should all be asking ourselves what we can do to fix that problem. To the extent that we don’t have enough black general managers or black managers, I think we all need to look at ourselves, at our own practices.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned with systemic racism in general, the system doesn’t fix itself. It’s on each of us to take action to stand up and make some changes.”

Epstein also said, “I join my colleagues at the Cubs in standing up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the protesters who are doing their best to make this a real inflection point in our history. At this moment in time, silence is complicity, and it’s important that all of our voices are heard.”

His comments come after the Cubs released a statement on Tuesday saying they condemn racism and support the protests:

Chicago Cubs @Cubs

A statement from the Chicago Cubs.

Comments and actions such as forming the diversity committee from the Cubs regarding racism are notable given the controversy that has surrounded the Ricketts family, which owns the team, in the past. In February 2019, Splinter News published a number of Joe Ricketts’ emails that endorsed and shared racist and Islamophobic attitudes.

Joe Ricketts, who is the patriarch of the family, and team chairman Tom Ricketts issued apologies following the story, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Tom also stressed Joe is not involved in the daily operations of the team, although Jon Greenberg of The Athletic noted the father’s funding of the family’s trust fund was used to buy the Cubs. 

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times reported in February 2019 that co-owner Todd Ricketts is the Republican National Committee finance chair and was selected to oversee fundraising efforts for Donald Trump.

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