SEATTLE, JUNE 17 -- Seattle Mariners President Chuck Armstrong has called a comment related to blacks in major league baseball made by the team's director of player development "terrible."
When asked about major league baseball's pledge to promote blacks in front-office jobs during an informal appearance last weekend, Bill Haywood said, "I told my wife to get the burnt cork, because I'm probably going to have to wear blackface from here on out."
Haywood confirmed Tuesday night he had made the remark.
"That's terrible!" Armstrong said Tuesday, when he heard about it.
Haywood, who oversees the Mariners' minor league system and reports directly to General Manager Dick Balderson, was one of the guest speakers at a Saturday meeting of about 25 members of the Northwest chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research.
At the meeting, Haywood suggested that blacks weren't willing to work for the low wages offered to aspiring baseball executives at the minor league level, said businessman David Ishii, an avid Mariners fan and a society member.
"I had the feeling that he regretted the tack he took in answering the question," said Jim O'Donnell, a past president of the chapter.
Haywood, contacted Tuesday night in Bellingham, Wash., home of Seattle's Northwest League farm club, said in response to a question about the burnt cork statement, "If I screwed up, I screwed up. But it does make me angry. I'm all in favor of minorities. All minorities. But when they talk about minorities now, it all comes down to one color. . . . I'm not opposed to hiring minorities. I hired Marty Martinez. I hired Bobby Tolan. I hired Bob Cuellar, who is a Mexican-American."