BERKELEY — Former Dodger vice president Al Campanis believes he is qualified to assist Harry Edwards in working toward greater minority representation in baseball's managerial positions.
Campanis, whose televised remarks about the abilities of blacks in baseball management led to his firing by the Dodgers, also said that his motivation in accepting the job under Edwards was not based on a desire to clarify his own opinions.
"I don't think I have to prove I'm not racist," Campanis said. "I'm retired, I'm doing something I enjoy and I think I'm qualified to do it."
Since his statements last spring on ABC's "Nightline," that blacks might lack the necessities to hold managerial and front-office positions, Campanis has maintained that he was misunderstood.
Hank Aaron, baseball's all-time home run champion and, as director of player development for the Atlanta Braves, one of the few front-office blacks in baseball, said that he does not believe Campanis' explanation of the incident, but also said that Campanis could be very helpful as an aide to Edwards.
Edwards, a UC Berkeley sociology professor and black activist who was hired by Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth amid the controversy surrounding Campanis' remarks, said that Campanis' commitment, rather than his sincerity is the issue. Edwards said last week he had no reason to question Campanis' sincerity. "Why wouldn't I believe him?" he said. "If he's willing to speak out against racism, who cares? The point is he made some inarticulate, disjointed statements that prompted him to clarify his own beliefs."
Campanis said: "We need to have sports administration classes in college to help people who are interested in getting jobs in baseball. You don't start at the top. That's what I meant by necessities. You have to have the necessary experience."
Aaron said he does not believe Campanis' assertion that his remarks were misunderstood.
Despite his skepticism, Aaron said that Campanis could help minorities achieve front-office positions and that he had no argument with Edwards' decision to work with Campanis.
"Just because he made those statements, that doesn't preclude him from helping a black person, or a woman, or a Hispanic person," Aaron said. "I think Mr. Campanis could help if someone wanted to pursue that career goal. He certainly has a track record of being one of the brightest general managers in baseball. I don't think you could find anybody better."