Lloyd McClendon stands alone in Major League Baseball as the sport’s only Black manager. While Black players only make up around 10 percent of the MLB, McClendon’s position is still noteworthy as he continues to follow a path constructed by other Black baseball greats.
McClendon, a 56-year-old native of Gary, Ind., was a star Little League player and member of what is thought to the the first all-Black team to reach the Little League World Series. Earning the nickname “Legendary Lloyd” for his batting prowess, he went on to star at Valparaiso University. McClendon had a modest career as a player, playing eight seasons in all for three teams. The team he played the longest for, the Pittsburgh Pirates, hired in 1997 as a hitting coach three years after he left the game.
In 2001, the team elevated him to manager, and he remained there until 2005. McClendon was then hired by the Detroit Tigers as its bullpen coach, but also performed several key duties in and off the field for the team. McClendon left the team in 2013, and the Seattle Mariners hired him in 2014 as its new manager. Now in his second year, McClendon is finding some success with his new squad.
In a profile written by Yahoo Sports, McClendon remarked on how he admired players like Jackie Robinson and Frank Robinson, the latter of whom became the first Black manager in the MLB in 1975.
A man of a few words off the field, McClendon earned the reputation of being a fiery manager who challenged calls and stuck up for his players against the umpires and field officials. He’s since taken a more gentle approach.