Former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez accomplished a lot during his 22 seasons playing in the Major Leagues. From winning the World Series in 2009 with the New York Yankees to his 14 All-Star selections, Rodriguez is unquestionably one of the greatest ever to play the game.
Today, Rodriguez is the chairman and CEO of A-Rod Corp, the chairman of Presidente Beer, and part-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is also a philanthropist interested in helping the next generation of Latines pursue their dreams to become sports executives.
In partnership with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Rodriguez is joining in the launch of the “Step Up to the Plate” initiative to create more opportunities for Latine students working towards a career in the sports industry. The program has awarded nine students with a three-month paid internship in the sports marketing division at Anheuser-Busch and a grant for living expenses.
“It’s really important to give back and set an example and allow people who have brown and black skin like myself to have equal opportunities,” Rodriguez, 46, told Remezcla during a recent interview. “It’s something I am passionate about.”
According to the 2022 Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida (UCF), Major League Baseball (MLB) earned a B for racial hiring. Rodriguez believes there is always room for improvement.
“It’s better today, but it’s obviously not where we need to be,” Rodriguez said. “People like me, who are in the position of power and influence, have a responsibility to make sure that diversity is seen as something that is important. We need more representation from our community.”
Rodriguez wants to see the “Step Up to the Plate” program “turbo-charge” the development of more Latine executives by putting students on the right path to that end goal. His advice to students thinking about a position in the sports industry is to “do what you love with people that you love.”
“I feel like I’m really lucky because I found my passions early on,” Rodriguez said. “Find what you’re good at and then be aggressive. Read everything you can and get educated. Education and structure, liberate. Ultimately, that will create a lot of opportunities.”
As a Latine executive himself, Rodriguez said “we are all a product of our background.” He points to his upbringing in a Dominican family where he found inspiration in his mother, who raised three children on her own while working two jobs. That’s partly the reason Rodriguez likes serving as a mentor when he gets the chance. He also believes strongly in “reverse mentorships” where professionals like him can learn from the younger generation.
“I believe in having young people in the room during the most important conversations,” he said. “You have to bring them into the room and empower them.”
Alex Rodriguez hopes to do just that through the “Step Up to the Plate” program.