Tyrone Brooks, ’96, is stepping up to the plate for Major League Baseball in a big way – to bring more diversity and inclusivity to America’s pastime.
As the senior director for the MLB’s Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program, Brooks is helping usher in a new workforce. Launched in 2016, the program focuses on attracting and hiring more people of color and women in baseball operations, including on-field and front-office positions.
In just over four hiring cycles, Brooks and his team have assisted in over 200 hires thus far, including adding the Boston Red Sox’s Bianca Smith to the organization’s minor league staff. Smith now represents MLB’s first Black female coach in professional baseball.
Being in his job at MLB is a privilege, Brooks says.
“It is truly an honor to be put into this opportunity to help build our game and build a pipeline for many others,” says Brooks. “The game is about the marathon, and you have to get in the door to get started and make your way through.”
For Brooks, the role is the culmination of over two decades of work in the league, and a journey that began at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
As a student, Brooks made it a priority to get involved in extracurricular activities and forge lasting connections with professors and peers. He credits assistant dean of undergraduate programs Brian Horick for his guidance – he was Brooks’ academic advisor then and is now a longtime friend.
“I knew I wanted to get as much exposure to different things that were available there on campus. I enjoyed the experience of being at the Smith School, meeting a great group of people throughout that time and having professors that I felt really invested in us,” says Brooks. “It was a great learning process, and I felt empowered to truly be fearless in terms of deciding my pathway and where I wanted to go.”
That pathway began with an internship with the Atlanta Braves, which resulted in a 10-year tenure with the team, taking on scouting, personnel and eventually administrative front office positions.
Using the experience he gained with the Braves, Brooks moved on to new opportunities with the Cleveland Indians and later the Pittsburgh Pirates, serving as a scout with the former and director of baseball operations at the latter.
The work might have seemed like a challenge to many others, but Brooks says he was living his dream. Wearing so many different hats within the various organizations gave him an opportunity to develop new skills and a greater appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes.
“When I first started my career in baseball, maybe it was very naive, but I told myself that I wanted to be a general manager by the time I was 37, which would have been 15 years later,” says Brooks. “That was just something I needed for myself, just to keep pushing myself, just continuing to reassess where I am. I’m thankful to have had mentors that stressed the importance of learning the rules of the game in terms of contracts, different compliance issues and payroll budgeting.”
In 2009, while working in the Pirates organization, Brooks began reflecting on his career in the baseball industry. He felt extremely fortunate to have made smooth transitions and to have climbed the organizational ladder at different teams.
That reflection led to his next mission in baseball, creating the Baseball Industry Network to help young professionals get their foot in the door, connect with people inside the league and create their own career path in the game. He immediately got to work, leveraging social media to assemble a network.
“I wanted to find a way to bring baseball people together and maintain a collective focus on bringing the next wave of talented students and job seekers into the industry,” says Brooks. “Within a few months, we hit 3,000 members and kept growing over the years to now having over 37,000 members.”
His reflection and the network, he says, helped set the tone for his current role with the MLB.
Brooks is excited to continue his work of paving the way for others. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to making his way to a ballpark to catch a game, the first chance he gets.
“I'm looking forward to us starting to build back that normalcy of being at a ballpark, enjoying a game, having people with you and getting a chance to connect over the game of baseball,” says Brooks. “To have that again, it's just something that I'm really looking forward to.”
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.