During his time in the minor leagues, veteran play-by-play broadcaster Adam Giardino couldn’t help but notice that nearly all of his colleagues were white males.
As time went by, a handful of women were hired into broadcasting roles in the minor leagues, which was a step forward but still didn’t change the racial breakdown of the industry.
This year, with the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and racial unrest across the country, Giardino decided to try to help make a small dent in the racial homogeneity of the minor league broadcasting world.
To help bring about change, Giardino started the Black Play-By-Play and Scholarship Fund. His goal was to raise money for one $3,000 grant to help a young, Black broadcaster accept his or her first job in Minor League Baseball. It would cover an additional $500 per month of expenses for the six month season on top of whatever monthly stipend was provided by the team.
The program was officially announced on June 8. In roughly five months, it has raised $25,000. For his efforts, Giardino is Baseball America’s Minor League Executive of the Year.
From the moment the foundation went live, the response was overwhelming.
“I took my watch off because I was getting too many notifications from PayPal and Venmo since it was just too much,” Giardino said. “It was great, and that overwhelming response really set the groundwork for what we were able to accomplish, because so many people bought in immediately.
As of late November, Giardino had begun the initial round of interviews to determine the winners of the first scholarships. The candidates came from colleges across the country.
The scholarships are only a start. They contribute $1,000 toward each winner’s dream of becoming a broadcaster, whether in baseball or any other sport. The money does not guarantee placement with a team, but it does help put young, talented Black broadcasters on the road to landing a job.
“What I’m seeing through the scholarship program is that I’ve heard from close to 30 Black college students who have some sort of interest in sports broadcasting,” Giardino said.
“Just being able to interview these college kids and get them on a Zoom call with myself and a couple other board of directors (including three Black broadcasters—Dave Sims (Mariners), Robert Ford (Astros) and Darius Thigpen (previously a studio host with Triple-A Lehigh Valley). I think that just will energize these college kids.”
2020 Freitas Awards: Eugene Emeralds (Short-Season)
The Eugene Emeralds used the resources normally put toward pillows and blankets to begin making personal protective masks.