- By Kavin Caruso
The first black player in the Major Leagues was Jackie Robinson. He played his first game on April 15, 1947. He played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-1956. He was also the first black player to appear in the World Series. The Brooklyn Dodgers played the New York Yankees in the 1947 World Series, the Yankees won the series. The first black player in the American League is Larry Doby. He broke in the Major League on July 5, 1947 as a Cleveland Indians outfielder. Twelve days later, another black player reached the Major League. Hank Thompson on July 17, 1947 became the first black player to play for the St. Louis Browns.
Jackie Robinson won the NL Rookie of the Year in 1947. He played college football for UCLA 1939-1940. He ran track for UCLA and he also played baseball for UCLA. Jackie Robinson had a good rookie season in 1947. He had a .297 batting average with 12 home runs and 48 rbi’s. He had 29 stolen bases, had 175 total hits. His lone World Series Championship win was in 1955. In 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. That was the only time that the Dodgers beat the Yankees in Brooklyn. Jackie Robinson retired from baseball following the 1956 World Series. He played for the Dodgers from 1947-1956. He had a total of 1,518 hits, 137 home runs, and 734 RBI’s. Jackie Robinson got elected in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962; he was the 1st black player to be inducted.
Larry Doby played for the Cleveland Indians from 1947- 1955. He then played for the Chicago White Sox from 1956-1957, went back to Cleveland in 1958. In 1959, he played for Detroit Tigers and finished the season playing for the White Sox. Larry Doby integrated the American League in the summer of 1947. He played centerfield for most of his career. In 1948, Cleveland Indians won the AL Pennant. The Cleveland Indians played the Boston Braves in the World Series. The Cleveland Indians beat the Boston Braves that year. That was the last time the Cleveland Indians ever won the World Series. During the 1948 World Series, Larry Doby was the 1st black player to hit a home run. He hit his first home run in the World Series in Game 4. Larry Doby and Satchel Paige were the first black players to win the World Series Championship.
Ernie Banks was the first black player to play for the Chicago Cubs. Ernie Banks broke in the Major League on September 17, 1953. Ernie Banks played for the Chicago Cubs from 1953- 1971. He played shortstop til 1962, then played 1st base. He never played in the postseason with the Cubs. In 1955, Ernie Banks hit 5 grand slams in one season, which was a single season record that was not broken for 30 years. Ernie Banks hit 512 career home runs. He never got 3,000 hits, his career hits were 2,583. He played in 24 career All-Star games, he played in 2 All- Stars twice in one season four times.
Sam Jethroe was the first black player to play for the Braves. He played for the Boston Braves from 1950-1952. Sam played in the outfield, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1950. Sam Jethroe was known as “The Jet”, why, he was fast, and he stole 35 bases in his rookie season. He was a fast outfielder for its time, had a career 98 stolen bases. He had a .261 lifetime batting average with 49 career home runs. Sam Jethroe hit the final grand slam that a Boston Brave player hit which was on June 7, 1952. In 1953, he spent the season in Toledo which was a Triple A. He batted .307 that year. In 1954, Sam Jethroe was traded to Pittsburgh. He finished in career in Pittsburgh. He played 2 games for the Pirates in 1954, and then played 5 seasons for Toronto which was a minor league team.
Hank Thompson was the first black player to play for the St. Louis Browns in 1947. He broke in the major leagues 12 days after Larry Doby broke the color line for the American League. Hank Thompson played second base for the Browns. He was released on August 23, 1947. He played for the Negro Leagues again. In 1949, Hank Thompson played in the Major Leagues again. He joined the NY Giants; he was the first black player to play in the American League and National League. Hank Thompson played for the NY Giants from 1949-1956. Hank Thompson helped the NY Giants beat the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series. Hank Thompson had a good career, 1953 was his best career season. He batted .302, with 24 home runs, 74 rbi’s. Hank Thompson hit .364 in the 1954 World Series. Hank Thompson played 9 seasons in the Major Leagues, he finished his career at Minneapolis Millers (minor league team). In nine seasons, Hank Thompson batted .267, with 129 home runs, 482 rbi’s, and 801 hits.
Minnie Minoso was the first black player to play for the Chicago White Sox in 1951. Minnie Minoso played for the Cleveland Indians in 1949, 1951, 1958-1959. May 1, 1951 the Chicago White Sox played the New York Yankees. Minnie Minoso was the starting left fielder and was the 1st black player to play for the White Sox. Minnie Minoso played baseball for 7 decades. Minnie Minoso played for the Indians two different times and played for the White Sox four different times. Minnie Minoso was on the All Star team over 9 times in his career and won 3 Gold Glove Awards. Minnie Minoso also played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Senators. Minnie Minoso had 1,963 hits, with 186 home runs, and 1,023 rbi’s for his career. Minnie Minoso played when he was 67 yrs old.
What do Jackie Robinson, baseball and Title IX have in common? Read more at Baseball and Title IX.