Major league baseball, Bowie Kuhn speaking, cemented in New York yesterday a commitment for increased minority hiring in the commissioner's office, the two league headquarters and the front offices of the 26 clubs.

To emphasize and advance that commitment, Kuhn announced baseball's participation in a pilot scolarship program with the Jackie Robinson Foundation (chaired by Robinson's widow, Rachel), St. John's University, the Yankees and the Mets. They will fund 15 full four-year scholarships to the St. John's athletic administration curriculum for youngsters in New York City. The program could be expanded to other cities.

So it will take some time. And it does not speak to Henry Aaron's January complaint of "a lack of job opportunities for minorities" in baseball management from out of the player ranks.

"That's not the way we should go," Kuhn said. "Bringing in former players is not the focus that's going to work. I think the focus should be on the young level."

Kuhn noted, "We have hired only nine former players (in front-office jobs) and of those nine, five have been white and four have been black. So I don't think it's a question of race, but rather the ballplayer with the skills we could use has greater opportunities elsewhere."

Elsewhere, too, than field managing in the majors, one might comment in noting that baseball is back to zero in that category . . .