In the view of Clifford L. Alexander Jr., a leading minority-hiring consultant, major league baseball was receiving ``failing grades'' when his firm, Alexander & Associates Inc., was called in four years ago. ``At that point, front-office hiring of minorities was 2 percent,'' he reports. ``Now it's 15 percent,'' a figure he says represents ``far better'' progress than in any other pro sport.

The percentage of minorities (blacks, Hispanics, and Asians) has stayed at 15 percent for two years, a result that Mr. Alexander says satisfies neither him nor baseball commissioner Fay Vincent. This is despite an increase in the actual number of minority employees from 273 to 305 (not including players and on-field staff).

To ascertain why black attendance is not higher at games (no detailed figures are available), major league baseball is conducting a study in partnership with the University of California at Los Angeles.

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