With America’s pastime now played on five continents, Major League Baseball is acutely aware of its responsibilities to ensure continued growth of the sport. One of the final projects of former commissioner Bud Selig was the development of the Diversity Business Summit, which basically gives job seekers and entrepreneurs the unique opportunity to meet with major and minor league executives, along with sponsoring business partners. As the name suggests, the summit’s goal is to attract minorities who might like to consider a career in baseball off the field. Although the event was scrapped in 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to co-host the two-day proceedings this year in Phoenix on March 8-9.
We recently caught up with Luis Gonzalez, a D-Back executive and the organization’s most admired Latino star, to comment on the summit.
The first three MLB summits were held in New York and Chicago, major ethnic urban centers, and in Houston, which has a large Hispanic population. Do you think this year’s event in Phoenix will allow the Diamondbacks to further connect with their Latino fan base?
Absolutely, we recognize that we have many Hispanic fans here in the Valley and over the past few years we have taken great strides to really connect with them and make sure they feel welcomed at Chase Field. We hired a Hispanic Marketing Manager who focuses solely on connecting with the Hispanic fan base and local businesses in the area. We also have brought several unique events to Chase Field, including Univision’s Fiestón event this past year that was a huge success with their live broadcast along the plaza at Chase Field and a performance by Mexican pop artist and Tucson native Luis Coronel. We hope that the Diversity Summit will allow us to expand our relationships with the Hispanic community.
What other achievements do the D-Backs hope to accomplish at the summit?
Phoenix is a very diverse city in that we have so many people from all over the world that end up settling here because of the climate. During the Diversity Summit, we hope to further engage people of various backgrounds and connect them with businesses that can provide a sustaining relationship.
As a player you were highly competitive, considered a role model, and a great clubhouse guy. Those are pretty good credentials for a potential skipper. Have you ever considered returning to the dugout as a field boss?
I am lucky to still be working with Major League Baseball in my current position as Senior Advisor to the President & CEO Derrick Hall. I am able to experience a multitude of roles, including a lot of community work, which is one of my passions. I am also able to help our players and travel throughout our minor league system to help the younger guys and work with them during spring training. I have triplets that are on the verge of graduating high school, so I am glad that I am able to spend as much time with my family as possible; as a manager I wouldn’t be able to have that valuable family time.
As the son of a Cuban immigrant, did growing up with Latino values help you achieve your goals in college and baseball career?
Definitely, it taught me how to have a good work ethic and appreciate what I have. Those values taught me not to take things for granted and to work hard every day.
You played in the big leagues for 19 years, became a five-time All-Star, and won a World Series ring. What was your most memorable moment on the diamond?
It has to be winning the World Series. Celebrating with my teammates is something you will never forget.