Minor League Baseball has placed diversity and inclusion at the forefront of its growth strategy. We strive to create an industry where all identities are represented, welcomed, valued and empowered to enhance our league’s culture, creativity, innovation and comprehensive service to the communities we occupy. We strive to be the most fun and inclusive league in all of sports and entertainment.
The goal of this series is to spotlight the people, programs and stories in the baseball industry that champion diversity and inclusion and advance the mission of Minor League Baseball’s diversity initiative. In recognition of Black History Month, throughout February we will profile a black leader in our industry. This week, we profiled the Nashville Sounds Foundation Executive Director Destiny Whitmore.
Baseball has long been a vehicle for change in communities, and Minor League Baseball teams are no exception. Throughout 2019, MiLB clubs volunteered 26,000 hours of community service and generated nearly $50 million for charities. Many teams prioritize the work they do outside the ballpark, including the Sounds.
Destiny Whitmore has worked on the Sounds’ community relations team since 2016, starting as a community relations assistant before working her way up to her current title of executive director of the Nashville Sounds Foundation in December 2019. Whitmore has been tireless in her pursuit to support her hometown of Nashville, and despite the fact the Sounds only play for four months out of the year, her work is a yearlong commitment.
Nashville Sounds Foundation host an in-game sale and silent auction to raise money to fund community programs.
“I take pride in the work that we do to improve our communities, one program at a time, often not actually enjoying a true offseason. Positively impacting your community doesn’t stop when the season ends, so we’re working year-round to make a difference. We have the power to transform lives with baseball as our platform. That possibility keeps me excited about what each new day brings,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore has leveraged her identity as a woman of color in an industry that’s still experiencing growing pains in its pursuit for gender and racial equity – particularly among leadership. Her proudest moment to date involves taking part in the execution of the club’s Play Like a Girl STEM day camp in 2019, which won Nashville its first Golden Bobblehead Award.
“Winning the Golden Bobblehead Award was so fulfilling, and such a moment of pride for our team. The program targeted women and girls and brought them to our park for a multi-faceted, hands-on learning experience,” Whitmore said. “All of the women in our office spent the morning with them touching on all aspects of our team’s business operations. Following that, our players got involved and conducted a baseball clinic. I’d like to think we’re helping continue to push Minor League Baseball forward.”
The success of 2019 was not limited to just one event. At the end of the year, the Sounds were recognized as the Triple-A® winner of Baseball America’s Freitas Awards, presented annually to clubs for their community involvement, long-term business success and consistent operational excellence.
This year, on April 25, the Sounds will be hosting a special night celebrating the history and impact of the African American community on the city of Nashville. For Whitmore, she hopes the event, “shows our entire community that we not only value them, but that they are a part of what makes our city such a great place to live.”
Destiny Whitmore along with Sounds staff pull weeds as a part of their Field Renovation Program.
While the night is not limited to celebrating just the Negro Leagues, Whitmore acknowledges that inspiration came from their centennial anniversary.
“The Negro Leagues’ history is baseball history; it’s our history. As much as we as a society forget, baseball wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions of African Americans who fought to play. Minor League Baseball paying homage and remembering the sacrifices of players like Josh Gibson is a step in the right direction.”
For Whitmore, her servant leadership and commitment to equity might best be communicated through a post she shared on her LinkedIn honoring Martin Luther King Jr. during the holiday last month.
“So much of my career has been defined by the importance of making an impact with my work, and Martin Luther King’s example of servant leadership has inspired me every step of the way. Standing up, speaking up, and showing up for what you believe in is a lesson that anyone can take from Dr. King’s life,” Whitmore wrote.
Being the only woman of color in the room has both its benefits and pitfalls. Whitmore recognizes the struggles she faces and is hoping her work helps build a path for future leaders.
“I take comfort in knowing someone will see me in my role and know that the same is possible for him or her,” Whitmore said. “I hope that programs like Copa de la Diversión and celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Negro Leagues show that Minor League Baseball is working to change that narrative.”
Whitmore leads a session of Play Like a Girl participants as a part of a Girl STEM Day Camp hosted at the ballpark.
Benjamin Pereira serves as Specialist, Diversity & Inclusion with Minor League Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.