Smith Alum Goes to Bat for Diversity in Baseball
MLB Exec Behind More Than 200 Hires, Including League’s First Black Female Coach
With Opening Day just over a week away, Tyrone Brooks ’96 is focused less on finalizing pitching rotations or seeing if a new prospect can hit a curveball and more on continuing personnel changes in Major League Baseball that transcend wins and losses.
As the senior director for the MLB’s Front Office and Field Staff Diversity Pipeline Program, he’s focused 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, including recently adding the Boston Red Sox’s Bianca Smith to the organization’s minor league staff. Smith is MLB’s first Black female coach.
“It is truly an honor to be put into this opportunity to help build our game and build a pipeline for many others,” he said. “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 got involved in extracurricular activities and forged 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 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,” Brooks said. “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.
From there, Brooks moved on to the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates, serving as a scout with the former and director of baseball operations at the latter. Wearing different hats within the organizations allowed him to develop new skills and a greater appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes. “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,” he said.
That gratitude for such varied opportunities sparked his next mission: creating the Baseball Industry Network in 2009 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.
“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,” Brooks said. Within a few months, it attracted 3,000 members and now has over 37,000.
Brooks is excited to continue his work of paving the way for others. In the meantime, he’s excited to catch a game in-person again, 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,” Brooks said. “To have that again, it's just something that I'm really looking forward to.”