Lorena Martin Accuses Top Mariners Executives of Racism



On Oct. 10, shortly after the end of the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, Dr. Lorena Martin, the Seattle Mariners’ Director of High Performance, was fired.

Martin’s position as Director of High Performance was the first of its kind in MLB and had her working closely with players at the major and minor league levels to physical and mental training.

On Nov. 12, Martin made public claims via her social media and in an interview with the Tacoma News Tribune that she had experienced racism, specifically towards latinx people during her time with the organization.

Martin recounted the racist and sexist comments made directly to her as well as those made about others in her presence calling Latinos “lazy, dumb, and stupid, especially the Dominicans.”

Her allegation also mentions the firing of “innocent trainers.” This was in reference to Leonardo Santiago and Jose Valdez not being offered renewal of their contracts after working with the organization for a long period of time. When speaking to The News Tribune, Santiago and Valdez said Andy McKay, the director of player development, treated them differently than he did their white coworkers.

Martin also called Dipoto a “poor leader” and blamed him for the Mariners’ inability to make it to
the playoffs.

“Leadership is to blame, under Jerry Dipoto’s leadership no team has made the playoffs. All talk, no substance. Poor leadership. This is how the Seattle Mariners treat people of color.”

In addition to Martin’s direct tweets about The Mariners, she retweeted a YouTube video which speaks on her previous colleagues’ experiences with the league.

Martin said that she filed complaints to Human Resources while employed with the Mariners on her concerns towards the leadership of the baseball team. She also stated that they attempted to compensate her to stay quiet on their breach of contract. Martin was meant to keep the job for three years and the position was offered to her last season.

In response, the Mariners sent out two press releases. The first stated that they categorically deny Martin’s claims of racism and of the firing of the two trainers. They called the claims “false” and “outrageous” and additionally took the opportunity to point out that she made her allegations only after being fired. This last comment, in particular, drew criticism from some in the Mariners fanbase.

The Mariners sent a second press release several hours later which reiterated their previous denial. This press release referred to Martin by the title of “Ms.” which drew ire as in all prior communications since her hiring she had been referred to as “Dr.”

MLB has since announced that they are conducting an investigation into Martin’s claims. The Mariners conducted a separate internal investigation which found the claims to be “unfounded”.

This is not the first time this year that the internal operations of the Mariners have been called into question. Over the summer the Seattle Times released an investigative report that found that Mariners CEO and President Kevin Mather was accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace along with other former executives.

Ruchika Tulshyan, Seattle University journalism professor and author of “The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace” pointed out that Martin could not possibly benefit from speaking out as a woman and minority because she is now likely blacklisted by other organizations for speaking out.

“For women and people of color to bring out and discuss racial bias and inequities in the workplace does not actually benefit them,” Tulshyan said. “Even if you bring in one woman or one person of color that doesn’t spark change. Diversity and inclusion make sure they feel like their contributions matter and that’s what creates cultural change within an organization.”

Maylon Hanold, Seattle U’s director of Sports Business Leadership graduate program, feels it is important to note that this is not simply a local problem that the Seattle Mariners are facing. It is a widespread problem that is being localized. If the larger issue is not addressed, we cannot progress as a non-discriminatory society.

“These things are incredibly newsworthy because sports have such a public visibility. It’s so easy to blame ‘the Mariners,’ but it’s not the Mariners, it’s society, it’s Seattle, it’s the U.S. it’s all of us with privilege and it plays out in these micro ways in all kinds of organizations.”

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