Roscoe Mapps is an executive with the San Francisco Giants and a member of our inaugural Outsports Power 100. | Photo by Josie Lepe/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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A few years ago, San Francisco Giants Chief Diversity Officer Roscoe Mapps was on a Pride panel with Billy Bean, Erik Braverman, Nona Lee and Dale Scott. While discussing his career as an out executive in Major League Baseball, Mapps mentioned that he had discussed his life as a queer person and his past work as an LGBTQ activist as part of his job interview with Giants.

Throughout the room, jaws dropped.

It was a moment that reflected how much things had changed in the game from the days when Bean and Scott felt they had to keep their sexuality a secret in order to keep their jobs. From the day he joined the Giants in 2015, Mapps was able to be open and honest about who he was without fear that it would cost him an opportunity to work in MLB.

“That’s part of my body of work — making sure that we are equal and seen and heard and have dignity,” said Mapps, a member of the Outsports Power 100.

Growing up queer in Texas where people he knew wouldn’t hesitate to give voice to their homophobic thoughts, a younger Mapps would’ve been surprised to have this experience.

Even though his love for the sport began when his mom placed a baseball in his hand at age 5, Mapps assumed that there was no possibility of finding work in the game. As a Black man going through the coming out process, there was no one with a similar life experience working in MLB to gave him a sense he could take that career path.

But after starting out as a corporate recruiter, Mapps chose to shift careers into politics. This provided him a springboard to enter baseball when in the mid-2010s, the Giants were looking to build a mixed-use residential and retail bayfront neighborhood development next to Oracle Park called Mission Rock.

In San Francisco, this meant that voters would have to approve of the project before construction could begin. Through his work in local politics, Mapps landed on the team’s radar. While researching the project, he found that Mission Rock’s commitment to affordable housing — especially for public servants like teachers and nurses — aligned with his values. After interviewing with Giants CEO Larry Baer, he was hired.

“When I first heard about the opportunity to run Mission Rock, I knew I could run the dog out of the campaign,” he recalled, “This is just politics, right? So to marry politics and baseball, I studied political science [so] this is the universe aligning everything for me. It was just that moment where you get it and you say yes and you run.”

From the moment he was hired, Mapps knew that the way to make Mission Rock a success was to take the campaign into the surrounding communities as often as possible. He estimated he spoke about 100 to 150 different groups about the project over the course of the campaign and stayed to answer every voter question afterward.

The result was a phenomenal success: the Mission Rock initiative was approved by San Francisco voters with 74% voting yes. “What that tells you is that we worked with everybody. Both progressive, moderate — on all aisles, from all walks of life — to put together an incredible coalition of support,” Mapps concluded.

Following that victory, Mapps was promoted to Vice President of External Affairs and appointed a member of the Giants’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. A few years later, in the wake of the George Floyd moment that mobilized a country, and generated civil rights demonstrations throughout the country, Mapps and the Giants front office went through a reckoning.

Responding to the moment, the Giants’ Black employees held an all-staff call and opened up about their life and workplace experiences with their co-workers. Following this moment of catharsis, the DEI Council was expanded and Mapps felt it emerged with a greater sense of mission.

“We had a really honest set of conversations with ourselves that said we are going to be fearless in this space, we’re going to be courageous in this space, we’re going to be authentic and real in this space. And we’re going to put out our recommendations and let our leaders make the call,” he remembered.

From that point, the DEI Council committed itself to initiatives like educating fellow employees, taking more bold stances publicly, and pushing for voter registration in marginalized Bay Area communities.

After engaging with consultants, the Giants realized that they needed to hire a full-time employee to head their DEI efforts. Following the work he’d done on Mission Rock and the DEI Council, Mapps was chosen to become the team’s Chief Diversity Officer, overseeing numerous employee resource groups, including one for LGBTQ co-workers.

“We have got to talk to each other more regularly and better,” Mapps said. “We’ve got to take a pause. We’ve got to figure out what misinformation is out there. The work of DEI is handling complexity and complexity is naturally scary to people. And so giving people permission to talk to each other in different ways and not the traditional way is really an important thing.”

From left: Erik Braverman, Roscoe Mapps and former umpire Dale Scott hold Pride hats prior to the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on June 11, 2022, in San Francisco.

Along the way, Mapps took part in a special project when the Giants became the first team to celebrate a Pride Day with all of their players wearing rainbow SF caps and sleeve patches in 2021. He also found that one of the most rewarding aspects of the promotion was listening to how many colleagues were emotionally impacted by it, including numerous straight co-workers who were close to someone in the LGBTQ community.

“Just by doing the work, you’re raising the level of cultural competency because people are starting to share their stories around this particular [LGBTQ] culture that you wouldn’t have had before,” he noted.

It was quite an accomplishment for someone in Mapps’ role. Both his team and the game itself are in a better place because there’s someone like him in it.

You can follow Roscoe Mapps on Twitter.