The last team to have a Black player

JULY 21, 1959 • CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Elijah “Pumpsie” Green was put in as a pinch runner for the Boston Red Sox on this night in 1959. The Red Sox became the last team to have a Black player. It completed what Jackie Robinson started in 1947. Every other major league team had had an African American in the lineup by this time.

It was a bumpy road for Green through the Red Sox system. He was invited to training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona that spring and reportedly had a good one, but was sent to the Red Sox minor league team in Minneapolis to start the season.

The Boston chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) asked for an investigation to determine if Green had been discriminated against as a player and in the housing he was provided. According to a July 22, 1959 United Press International story, the Red Sox said “they would call a Negro player when they developed one of major league caliber in their farm system.” The Red Sox now believed they had “a Negro of major league caliber,” and the team was cleared of discrimination.

Here are the first Black players (in the modern era*) for each team and the season of their first game:

Jackie Robinson
Larry Doby
Hank Thompson
Monte Irvin
Sam Jethroe
Minnie Minoso
Bob Trice
Ernie Banks
Curt Roberts
Tom Alston
Nino Escalera
Chuck Harmon
Carlos Paula
Elston Howard
John Kennedy
Ozzie Virgil
Pumpsie Green
Brooklyn , 1947
Cleveland , 1947
St. Louis , 1947
New York Giants, 1949
Boston Braves, 1950
Chicago White Sox, 1951
Philadelphia Athletics, 1953
Chicago Cubs 1953
Pittsburgh , 1954
St. Louis Cardinals, 1954
Cincinnati Reds, 1954
Cincinnati Reds, 1954
Washington Senators 1954
New York Yankees, 1955
Philadelphia Phillies, 1957
Detroit Tigers, 1958
Boston Red Sox

*Blacks were not allowed to play in the major leagues from the late 1800s until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 because of a “gentleman’s agreement” between the owners.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Baseball-Almanac famous firsts
United Press International, July 22, 1959
Cap Anson, instigator of the Gentleman’s Agreement

The First Big Crowd

July 20, 1858 | LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK – It’s not significant by today’s standards, but it was monumental 150 years ago. According to Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, the first big crowd to watch a baseball game, “no fewer than 1,500″ paying spectators,” came out to a Race Course on Long Island on July 20, 1858 to watch an all-star game.

The best players of New York City took on the best Brooklyn had to offer. Back then they were two separate cities. New York won 22-18, and promoters saw dollar signs.  The main reason admission was charged was to defray the cost of converting a field into a baseball diamond – there weren’t too many around back then. The gate receipts added up to over $700 dollars – a big chunk of change before the Civil War.

The event showed that if you put teams together with good players, fans will pay money to watch, and there will be more money to buy better players. The first big crowd had a ripple effect. As Leonard Koppett wrote,

“…those who would travel far and then pay 50 cents to watch a game would undoubtedly pay a penny or two to read about one.”

Newspapers soon found another way to attract readers; baseball scores, eventually box scores. And there were new ones every day.

Contributing Source:
Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, 2004, by Leonard Koppett, Carrol & Graf Publishers, New York 

 

MASS EJECTIONS AT FENWAY

July 19, 1946 | Boston, Massachusetts – Fourteen Chicago White Sox players were kicked out of a game against the Red Sox in mass ejections at Fenway Park. It all started when White Sox pitcher Joe Haynes put Red Sox slugger Ted Williams on his fanny, the result of a pitch too far inside.

Umpire Red Jones gave Haynes a warning not to throw at Red Sox hitters. Here’s how the Associated Press described what happened next:

“A chorus of yammering from the Chicago bench resulted in [Umpire] Jones ordering four White Sox players from the bench – Ralph Hodgin, Dario Lodigiani, Ed Smith and Bling Miller.” The “yammerin” didn’t stop.”

Before the game was over 14 White Sox were ordered from the dugout for making derisive comments about Jones’ vision and judgment.

The Red Sox went on to win easily 9-2, and increase their lead against the second place New York Yankees to 11½ games.

A YAMMERING VENTRILOQUIST?

A story surfaced some days after the mass ejections at Fenway that it wasn’t the players doing the yammering. It was, get this, a ventriloquist in the stands. If you read John Branch‘s 2006 story from the New York Times you’ll find that the facts kind of get in the way of a good story.

The Red Sox went on to win the American League pennant in 1946 (this was before division play) before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
New York Times, July 6, 2006

The Associated Press (AP), July 20, 1946, Boston, MA  

 

DIMAGGIO’S HIT STREAK ENDS

JULY 17, 1941 | CLEVELAND, OHIO – Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak ends in Cleveland, and 56 becomes an iconic number in the world of sports. “Joltin Joe” got at least one hit in 56 consecutive games – until tonight.

The streak captivated the nation for weeks. A record-breaking 67,468 fans came to Cleveland Municipal Stadium on a Thursday night to watch the Yankee slugger try to extend his streak,

The streak started quietly at Comiskey Park in Chicago on May 15th. Interest intensified as DiMaggio reached 30 consecutive games with at least one hit. It grew into an obsession when DiMaggio surpassed Wee Willie Keeler‘s 45 game hit streak record on July 2nd and kept on going. Now DiMaggio was setting a new record every game.

It was stopped at the hands of two relatively unknown Cleveland pitchers, left-hander Al Smith and right-hander Jim Bagby. All-star third baseman Ken Keltner made two dazzling plays to rob DiMaggio of hits.

DiMaggio didn’t just break Keeler’s record, he smashed it by 11 games. Had 56 not been where DiMaggio’s hit streak ends, we could very well be talking about a 73-game hitting streak. After going hitless on July 17th, DiMaggio went on hitting in 16 more consecutive games.

How remarkable is DiMaggio’s display of hitting consistency? To this day no one has surpassed Wee Willie Keeler’s mark of 45 consecutive games with at least one hit – except Joe DiMaggio.

Top 10 Consecutive game hit leaders and year accomplished:
Joe DiMaggio 56 (1941)
Wee Willie Keeler 45 (1897)
Pete Rose 44 (1978)
Bill Dahlen 42 (1894)
George Sisler 41 (1922)
Ty Cobb 40 (1911)
Paul Molitor 39 (1987)
Jimmy Rollins 38 (2006)
Tommy Holmes 37 (1945)
Gene DeMontreville 36 (1897)

Contributing sources: 
The Associated Press
, July 18, 1941
Longest Hitting Streaks

July 14-Sibling Rarity

1972 | DETROIT , MICHIGAN – There have been a number of baseball playing brother combinations; the Alou’s being the most famous. Three times in September of 1963 Matty, Felipe and Jesus Alou played all three outfield positions at the same time for the San Francisco Giants (according to the New York Timess it’s a myth that the Alou brothers ever started a game playing all three outfield positions.)

Here’s something even rarer.

Today in baseball history – July 14, 1972 – home plate umpire Bill Haller looked over the shoulder of his brother Tom Haller, the catcher for the Detroit Tigers in a game between the Kansas City Royals and the Tigers. It’s believed to be the first time in major league history brothers played and umpired the same game. It ended up being a very well played game with the Royals winning 1-0.

Did Tom Haller, the player, get rung up by Bill Haller, the umpire? The answer is no. A check of the box score from that day in July 1972 shows Tom going one for four, with a single. He did not strike out or walk.

Umpire-player sibling combinations are extremely rare, but not playing brothers. Here are some:

DiMaggio – Joe & Dominic
Boyer – Clete & Ken
Niekro – Phil & Joe
Aaron – Henry & Tommie
Perry – Gaylord & Jim
Brett – Ken & George
Maddux – Gregg & Mike
Giambi – Jason & Jeremy
May – Lee & Carlos
Drew – J.D. & Steve
Upton – B.J. & Justin
Young – Dimitri & Delmon
Patterson – Corey & Eric

There are some famous father & son combinations:
Alou – Matty (brother) , Felipe (brother/father), Jesus (brother) and Moises (son of Felipe)
Boone – Ray (grandfather), Bob (father), Brett (son) and Aaron (son)
Bell – Gus (grandfather), Buddy (son), David (grandson), Mike (grandson)
Ripken – Cal Sr. (father), Cal Jr. (son) & Billy (son)
Griffey – Ken Sr. (father) & Ken Jr. (son)

Contributing Sources:
New York Times, November 3, 2011
July 14, 1972 Tigers/Royals box score/game stats
Brothers