Baseball color line

The color line, also known as the color barrier, in American baseball excluded players of black African descent from Major League Baseball and its affiliated Minor Leagues until 1947 (with a few notable exceptions in the 19th century before the line was firmly established). Racial segregation in professional baseball was sometimes called a gentlemen's agreement, meaning a tacit understanding, as there was no written policy at the highest level of organized baseball, the major leagues. But a high minor league's vote in 1887 against allowing new contracts with black players within its league sent a powerful signal that eventually led to the disappearance of blacks from the sport's other minor leagues later that century, including the low minors.

After the line was in virtually full effect in the early 20th century, many black baseball clubs were established, especially during the 1920s to 1940s when there were several Negro Leagues. During this period some light-skinned Hispanic players (e.g. Lefty Gomez), Native Americans, and native Hawaiians (e.g. Prince Oana) were able to play in the Major Leagues.

The color line was broken for good when Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization for the 1946 season. In 1947, both Robinson in the National League and Larry Doby with the American League's Cleveland Indians appeared in games for their teams. By the late 1950s, the percentage of black players on Major League teams matched or exceeded that of the general population.

Origins

William Edward White (1879)
William Edward White

Formal beginning of segregation followed the baseball season of 1867. On October 16, the Pennsylvania State Convention of Baseball in Harrisburg denied admission to the "colored" Pythian Baseball Club.[1]

Major League Baseball's National League, founded in 1876, had no black players in the 19th century, except for a recently discovered one, William Edward White, who played in a single game in 1879 and who apparently passed as white. The National League and the other main major league of the day, the American Association, had no written rules against having African American players. In 1884, the American Association had two black players, Moses Fleetwood Walker and, for a few months of the season, his brother Weldy Walker, both of whom played for the Toledo Blue Stockings.

The year before, in 1883, prominent National League player Cap Anson had threatened to have his Chicago team sit out an exhibition game at then-minor league Toledo if Toledo's Fleet Walker played. Anson backed down, but not before uttering the word nigger on the field and vowing that his team would not play in such a game again.[2]

In 1884, the Chicago club made a successful threat months in advance of another exhibition game at Toledo, to have Fleet Walker sit out. In 1887, Anson made a successful threat by telegram before an exhibition game against the Newark Little Giants of the International League that it must not play its two black players, Fleet Walker and pitcher George Stovey.[3]

The influence of players such as Anson and the general racism in society led to segregation efforts in professional baseball. On July 14, 1887, the high-minor International League voted to ban the signing of new contracts with black players. By a 6-to-4 vote, the league’s entirely white teams voted in favor and those with at least one black player voted in the negative. The Binghamton, N.Y., team, which had just released its two black players, voted with the majority.[4]

Right after the vote, the sports weekly Sporting Life stated, “Several representatives declared that many of the best players in the league are anxious to leave on account of the colored element, and the board finally directed Secretary [C.D.] White to approve of no more contracts with colored men.”[5]

On the afternoon of the International League vote, Anson’s Chicago team played the game in Newark alluded to above, with Stovey and the apparently injured Walker sitting out. Anson biographer Howard W. Rosenberg, concluded that, “A fairer argument is that rather than being an architect [of segregation in professional baseball, as the late baseball racism historian Jules Tygiel termed Anson in his 1983 Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy], that he was a reinforcer of it, including in the National League – and that he had no demonstrable influence on changing the course of events apart from his team’s exhibition-game schedule.” The year 1887 was also the high point of achievement of blacks in the high minor leagues, and each National League team that year except for Chicago played exhibition games against teams with black players, including against Newark and other International League teams.[6]

Some of Anson’s notoriety stems from a 1907 book on early blacks in baseball by black minor league player and later black semi-professional team manager Sol White, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. White claimed that, “Were it not for this same man Anson, there would have been a colored player in the National League in 1887.”[7]

After the 1887 season, the International League retained just two blacks for the 1888 season, both of whom were under contracts signed before the 1887 vote, Frank Grant of the Buffalo Bisons and Moses Fleetwood Walker of the Syracuse franchise, with Walker staying in the league for most of 1889.

In September 1887, eight members of the St. Louis Browns of the then-major American Association (who would ultimately change their nickname to the current St. Louis Cardinals) staged a mutiny during a road trip, refusing to play a game against the New York Cuban Giants, the first all-black professional baseball club, and citing both racial and practical reasons: that the players were banged up and wanted to rest so as to not lose their hold on first place. At the time, the St. Louis team was in Philadelphia, and a story that ran in the Philadelphia Times stated that “for the first time in the history of base ball the color line has been drawn."[8]

Blacks were gone from the high minors after 1889 and a trickle of them were left in the minor leagues within a decade. Besides White’s single game in 1879, the lone blacks in major league baseball for around 75 years were Fleet Walker and his brother Weldy, both in 1884 with Toledo.

A big change would take place starting in 1946, when Jackie Robinson played for the Montreal Royals in the International League.[9]

Covert efforts at integration

Chief Bender, Philadelphia Athletics pitcher, by Paul Thompson, 1911
Chief Bender

While professional baseball was formally regarded as a strictly white-men-only affair, the racial color bar was directed against black players exclusively. Other races were allowed to play in professional white baseball. One example was Charles Albert Bender, a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1910. Bender was the son of a Chippewa mother and a German father and had the inevitable nickname "Chief" from the white players.[10]

As a result of this exclusive treatment of black players, deceptive tactics were used by managers to sign African Americans, including several attempts, with the player's acquiescence, to sign players who they knew full well were African American as Native Americans despite the ban. In 1901, John McGraw, manager of the Baltimore Orioles, tried to add Charlie Grant to the roster as his second baseman. He tried to get around the Gentleman's Agreement by trying to pass him as a Cherokee named Charlie Tokohama. Grant went along with the charade. However, in Chicago Grant's African American friends who came to see him try out gave him away and Grant never got an opportunity to play ball in the big leagues.[11]

On May 28, 1916, British Columbian Jimmy Claxton temporarily broke the professional baseball color barrier when he played two games for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. Claxton was introduced to the team owner by a part-Native American friend as a fellow member of an Oklahoma tribe. The Zee-Nut candy company rushed out a baseball card for Claxton.[10] However, within a week, a friend of Claxton revealed that he had both Negro and Indigenous Canadian ancestors, and Claxton was promptly fired.[12] It would be nearly thirty more years before another black man, at least one known to be black, played organized white baseball.

There possibly were attempts to have people of African descent be signed as Hispanics. One possible attempt may have occurred in 1911 when the Cincinnati Reds signed two light-skinned players from Cuba, Armando Marsans and Rafael Almeida. Both of them had played "Negro Baseball", barnstorming as members of the integrated All Cubans. When questions arose about them playing the white man's game, the Cincinnati managers assured the public that "...they were as pure white as Castile soap."[10]

The African American newspaper New York Age had this to say about the signings:

Now that the first shock is over, it will not be surprising to see a Cuban a few shades darker breaking into the professional ranks. It would then be easier for colored players who are citizens of this country to get into fast company.[10]

The Negro leagues

The Negro National League was founded in 1920 by Rube Foster, independent of Organized Baseball's National Commission (1903–1920). The NNL survived through 1931, primarily in the midwest, accompanied by the major Eastern Colored League for several seasons to 1928. "National" and "American" Negro leagues were established in 1933 and 1937 which persisted until integration. The Negro Southern League operated consecutively from 1920, usually at a lower level. None of them, nor any integrated teams, were members of Organized Baseball, the system led by Commissioner Landis from 1921. Rather, until 1946 professional baseball in the United States was played in two racially segregated league systems, one on each side of the so-called color line. Much of that time there were two high-level "Negro major leagues" with a championship playoff or all-star game, as between the white major leagues.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis

Landis portrait-restored
Kenesaw Mountain Landis

During his 1921–1944 tenure as the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis has been alleged to have been particularly determined to maintain the segregation. It is possible that he was guided by his background as a federal judge, and specifically by the then-existing constitutional doctrine of "separate but equal" institutions (see Plessy v. Ferguson). He himself maintained for many years that black players could not be integrated into the major leagues without heavily compensating the owners of Negro league teams for what would likely result in the loss of their investments. In addition, integration at the major league level would likely have necessitated integrating the minor leagues, which were much more heavily distributed through the rural U.S. South and Midwest.

Although Landis had served an important role in helping to restore the integrity of the game after the 1919 World Series scandal, his unyielding stance on the subject of baseball's color line was an impediment. His death in late 1944 was opportune, as it resulted in the appointment of a new Commissioner, Happy Chandler, who was much more open to integration than Landis was.

Bill Veeck and Branch Rickey

The only serious attempt to break the color line during Landis' tenure came in 1942, when Bill Veeck tried to buy the then-moribund Philadelphia Phillies and stock them with Negro league stars. However, when Landis got wind of his plans,[13] he and National League president Ford Frick scuttled it in favor of another bid by William D. Cox.

In his autobiography, Veeck, as in Wreck, in which he discussed his abortive attempt to buy the Phillies, Veeck also stated that he wanted to hire black players for the simple reason that in his opinion the best black athletes "can run faster and jump higher" than the best white athletes.[14] Veeck realized that there was no actual rule against integration; it was just an unwritten policy, a "Gentlemen's Agreement." Veeck stated that Landis and Frick prevented him from buying and thus integrating the Phillies, on various grounds.

The authors of a controversial article in the 1998 issue of SABR's The National Pastime argued that Veeck invented the story of buying the Phillies, claiming Philadelphia's black press made no mention of a prospective sale to Veeck.[15] Subsequently, the article was strongly challenged by the late historian Jules Tygiel, who refuted it point-by-point in an article in the 2006 issue of SABR's The Baseball Research Journal,[16] and in an appendix, entitled "Did Bill Veeck Lie About His Plan to Purchase the ’43 Phillies?", published in Paul Dickson's biography, Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick.[17] Joseph Thomas Moore wrote in his biography of Doby, "Bill Veeck planned to buy the Philadelphia Phillies with the as yet unannounced intention of breaking that color line."[18] The Phillies ended up being the last National League team, and third-last team in the majors, to integrate, with John Kennedy debuting for the Phillies in 1957, 15 years after Veeck's attempted purchase.

Around 1945, Branch Rickey, General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, held tryouts of black players, under the cover story of forming a new team called the "Brooklyn Brown Dodgers." The Dodgers were, in fact, looking for the right man to break the color line. Rickey had an advantage in that he was already an employee of the Dodgers. Also, Landis had died by this time and new commissioner Happy Chandler was more supportive of integrating the major leagues.

Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby

The color line was breached when Rickey, with Chandler's support, signed the African American player Jackie Robinson in October 1945, intending him to play for the Dodgers. Chandler later wrote in his biography that although he risked losing his job as commissioner, he could not in good conscience tell black players they could not play with white players when they had fought alongside them in World War II.

After a year in the minor leagues with the Dodgers' top minor-league affiliate, the Montreal Royals of the International League, Robinson was called up to the Dodgers in 1947. He endured epithets and death threats and got off to a slow start. However, his athleticism and skill earned him the first ever Rookie of the Year award, which is now named in his honor.

Less well-known was Larry Doby, who signed with Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians that same year to become the American League's first African American player. Doby, a more low-key figure than Robinson, suffered many of the same indignities that Robinson did, albeit with less press coverage. As baseball historian Daniel Okrent wrote, "Robinson had a two year drum roll, Doby just showed up."[19] Both men were ultimately elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the merits of their play. Willard Brown played briefly in 1947 for the St. Louis Browns and was the first African American player to hit a home run in the American league. He too was elected to the Hall of Fame based on his career in the Negro Leagues. Due to their success, teams gradually integrated African Americans on their rosters. (12 years after his 1947 debut, Doby would become the first American player of African descent to appear for the Detroit Tigers, on March 21st, 1959.)

Prior to the integration of the major leagues, the Brooklyn Dodgers led the integration of the minor leagues. Jackie Robinson and Johnny Wright were assigned to Montreal, but also that season Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella became members of the Nashua Dodgers in the class-B New England League. Nashua was the first minor-league team based in the United States to integrate its roster after 1898. Subsequently that season, the Pawtucket Slaters, the Boston Braves' New England League franchise, also integrated its roster, as did Brooklyn's class-C franchise in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. With one exception, the rest of the minor leagues would slowly integrate as well, including those based in the southern United States. The Carolina League, for example, integrated in 1951 when the Danville Leafs signed Percy Miller Jr. to their team.

The exception was the Class AA Southern Association. Founded in 1901 and based in the Deep South, it allowed only one black player, Nat Peeples of the 1954 Atlanta Crackers, a brief appearance in the league. Peeples went hitless in two games played and four at bats on April 9–10, 1954, was demoted one classification to the Jacksonville Braves of the Sally League, and the SA reverted to white-only status. As a result, its major-league parent clubs were forced to field all-white teams during the 1950s. By the end of the 1950s, the SA also was boycotted by civil rights leaders. The Association finally ceased operation after the 1961 season, still a bastion of segregation. Its member teams joined the International, Sally and Texas leagues, which were all racially integrated.

Resistance by the Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate, holding out until 1959, a few months after the Detroit Tigers.[20] This was due to the steadfast resistance provided by team owner Tom Yawkey. In April 1945, the Red Sox refused to consider signing Jackie Robinson (and future Boston Braves outfielder Sam Jethroe) after giving him a brief tryout at Fenway Park.[20] The tryout, however, was a farce chiefly designed to assuage the desegregationist sensibilities of Boston City Councilman Isadore H. Y. Muchnick, who threatened to revoke the team's exemption from Sunday blue laws.[21] Even with the stands limited to management, Robinson was subjected to racial epithets.[20] Robinson left the tryout humiliated.[22] Robinson would later call Yawkey "one of the most bigoted guys in baseball".[23]

On April 7, 1959 during spring training, Yawkey and general manager Bucky Harris were named in a lawsuit charging them with discrimination and the deliberate barring of black players from the Red Sox.[24] The NAACP issued charges of "following an anti-Negro policy", and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination announced a public hearing on racial bias against the Red Sox.[25] Thus, the Red Sox were forced to integrate, becoming the last pre-expansion major-league team to do so when Harris promoted Pumpsie Green from Boston's AAA farm club. On July 21, Green debuted for the team as a pinch runner, and would be joined later that season by Earl Wilson, the second black player to play for the Red Sox.[26] In the early to mid 1960s, the team added other players of color to their roster including Joe Foy, José Tartabull, George Scott, George Smith, John Wyatt, Elston Howard and Reggie Smith. The 1967 Red Sox went on to win the "Impossible Dream" pennant but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in that year's World Series.

Tom Yawkey died in 1976, and his widow Jean Yawkey eventually sold the team to Haywood Sullivan and Edward "Buddy" LeRoux. As chief executive, Haywood Sullivan found himself in another racism controversy that ended in a courtroom. The Elks Club of Winter Haven, Florida, the Red Sox spring training home, did not permit black members or guests. Yet the Red Sox allowed the Elks into their clubhouse to distribute dinner invitations to the team's white players, coaches, and business management. When the African-American Tommy Harper, a popular former player and coach for Boston, then working as a minor league instructor, protested the policy and a story appeared in the Boston Globe, he was promptly fired. Harper sued the Red Sox for racial discrimination and his complaint was upheld on July 1, 1986.[27]

Professional baseball firsts

* A case has been made for Ernie Banks as the de facto first black manager in the major leagues. On May 8, 1973, Chicago Cubs manager Whitey Lockman was ejected from the game. Coach Ernie Banks filled in as manager for two innings of the 12-inning 3–2 win over the San Diego Padres. The Sporting News Official Baseball Guide prior to the 1974 season stated flatly that on May 8, "Ernie Banks became the major leagues' first black manager, but only for a day" (page 129). The other two regular coaches on the team were absent that day, opening this door for Banks for the one occasion, but Banks never became a manager on a permanent basis.

See also

References

  1. ^ Gordon, Patrick (April 2008). "On the field, Pythian baseball club was rivaled by few". Philadelphia Baseball Review. Archived from the original on 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2013-08-30. The Pythians finished 1867 with a 9–1 record but suffered a setback on October 16 in Harrisburg when the club applied and was denied admission into the Pennsylvania State Convention of Baseball, a state organization designed to promote a professional approach to the game. "The committee reported favorably on all credentials except for the ones presented by the Pythians, which theyintentionally neglected", noted author Michael Lomax. The National Association of Amateur Baseball Players upheld the Pennsylvania State Association's ruling and adopted a formal ban on the inclusion of black players and clubs.
  2. ^ Husman, John R. "August 10, 1883: Cap Anson vs. Fleet Walker". the Society for American Baseball Research.
  3. ^ Mancuso, Peter. "July 14, 1887: The color line is drawn"., the Society for American Baseball Research.
  4. ^ Rosenberg, Howard W. "Fantasy Baseball: The Momentous Drawing of the Sport's 19th-Century 'Color Line' is still Tripping up History Writers,". The Atavist, June 14, 2016.
  5. ^ Rosenberg. "Fantasy Baseball,". Missing or empty |url= (help)ibid.
  6. ^ Rosenberg. "Fantasy Baseball,". Missing or empty |url= (help) ibid., in part citing, for exhibition game data, Bond, Gregory. "Jim Crow at Play: Race, Manliness, and the Color Line in American Sports, 1876–1916"., dissertation, Doctor of Philosophy (History), p. 262.
  7. ^ Rosenberg, Howard W. (2006). Cap Anson 4: Bigger Than Babe Ruth: Captain Anson of Chicago. Tile Books. ISBN 978-0-9725574-3-6., pp. 423, 425–30 and Rosenberg. "Fantasy Baseball,". Missing or empty |url= (help)ibid.
  8. ^ Rosenberg. Cap Anson 4., p. 433 and Rowell, Jeffrey Clarke. "Moses Fleetwood Walker and the Establishment of a Color Line in Major League Baseball, 1884–1887" (PDF)., Atlanta Review of Journalism History, p. 111.
  9. ^ "Breaking a Barrier 60 Years Before Robinson," The New York Times, July 27, 2006.
  10. ^ a b c d "The Faith of Fifty Million People: Top of the 3rd Inning (First half of the third episode)". Ken Burns's Baseball. September 20, 1994.
  11. ^ Ken Burns's Baseball' "Something Like a War" Top of the second inning (first half of episode two) Original airdate: Monday, September 19, 1994
  12. ^ "Sporting News". Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  13. ^ Moore, Joseph Thomas (1988). Pride and Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby. New York: Praeger Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 0275929841.
  14. ^ Veeck — as in Wreck, p. 171, by Bill Veeck with Ed Linn, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1962.
  15. ^ Jordan, David M; Gerlach, Larry R; Rossi, John P. "A Baseball Myth Exploded" (PDF)
  16. ^ Revisiting Bill Veeck and the 1943 Phillies, The National Pastime, 2006, p. 109. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  17. ^ Dickson, Paul (2012). Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick. New York: Walker & Company. ISBN 978-0-8027-1778-8.
  18. ^ Moore, Joseph Thomas (1988). Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby. New York: Praeger Publishers. p. 19. ISBN 0275929841.
  19. ^ Moore, Joseph Thomas; Dickson, Paul (1988). Larry Doby: The Struggle of the American League's First Black Player. New York: Greenwood Press. p. x. ISBN 9780486483375.
  20. ^ a b c NPR (2002). "The Boston Red Sox and Racism with New Owners, Team Confronts Legacy of Intolerance". NPR. Archived from the original on 9 July 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2008
  21. ^ Simon, pp. 46–47.
  22. ^ Bryant, p. 31.
  23. ^ "Ted Williams: A life remembered". Boston.com. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  24. ^ New York Times April 7, 1959
  25. ^ Bleacher Report April 16, 2009 by Harold Friend
  26. ^ "The Red Sox Encyclopedia". Google Books. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  27. ^ Bryant, Howard, Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston. Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.
  28. ^ "Famous Baseball Firsts in the Postwar Era". Baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  29. ^ "1949 All-Star Game". Baseball-Almanac.com. Retrieved 18 August 2012.

Further reading

  • Adelson, Bruce (1999). Brushing back Jim Crow : the integration of minor-league baseball in the American South. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. ISBN 0-8139-1884-7.
  • Gordon, Patrick. Octavius Catto & the Pythian Baseball Club: The beginnings of black baseball. Philadelphia Baseball Review. March 2008.
  • Gordon, Patrick. On the field, the Pythian Club was rivaled by few: Catto led a stellar organization. Philadelphia Baseball Review. April 2008.
  • Heaphy, Leslie A. The Negro Leagues 1869–1960. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. 2003.
  • Lamb, Chris. Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2012.
  • Lanctot, Neil. Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution. Philadelphia: U. of Penn. Press. 2004.
  • McNeil, William F. Black Baseball Out of Season: pay for play outside of the Negro Leagues. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. 2007.
  • Olsen, Jack. The Black Athlete: A Shameful Story; The Myth of Integration in American Sport. Time-Life Books. 1968.
  • Rhoden, William C. $40 Million Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete. Crown Publishers. 2006.

External links

Chappie Johnson

George "Chappie" Johnson Jr. (May 8, 1877 – August 17, 1949) was an African-American baseball catcher and field manager in the Negro leagues. He played for many of the best teams from 1895 to 1920 and he crossed racial boundaries as a teacher and coach.

Johnson was born and raised in the village of Bellaire, Ohio, on the upper Ohio River. In 1895, he debuted at the age of 17 with the Page Fence Giants, where he played short stop, left field, then first base, then moved to catcher where he stayed for most of his career. Most of the team moved to Chicago and formed the Chicago Columbia Giants in 1899. There, Johnson often caught for George Wilson, and the two became a powerful battery for the baseball club.Johnson moved on to the Chicago Union Giants, and played on and off with the Algona Brownies, then moved with George Wilson to a baseball team in Renville, Minnesota and the famous battery won the state championship in 1905, playing against mostly white teams.

Previous to the 1906 season, Johnson traveled to Palm Beach, Florida and became head trainer for the Boston Red Sox. The Baseball color line excluded Johnson from playing in Major League Baseball games, but did not bar him from using his skills as a trainer.

In 1906, Johnson moved out East to catch for the Philadelphia Giants, and came back West in 1907 to manage the St. Paul Colored Gophers for a few seasons. The Gophers went to Little Rock, Arkansas, playing Spring Training games with Major League Baseball teams.

By 1910, Johnson was reportedly the only catcher wearing shin guards, saying they make him "look like a big leaguer." Other catchers quickly followed.

Johnson last played for a major team in 1919 (the eve of the organized Negro Leagues), and continued as a manager through 1939, even managing teams using his name, such as the "Dayton Chappies" and the "Chappie Johnson Stars." He died at 72 in Clemson, South Carolina.

Charlie Grant

Charles Grant Jr. (August 31, 1874 – July 9, 1932) was an African American second baseman in Negro League baseball. Grant nearly crossed the baseball color line decades before Jackie Robinson when Major League Baseball manager John McGraw attempted to pass him off as a Native American named "Tokohama".

Color Line

Color line may refer to:

Color line (racism)

Color Line (ferry operator)

Baseball color line

Commissioner of Baseball

The Commissioner of Baseball is the chief executive of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the associated Minor League Baseball (MiLB) – a constellation of leagues and clubs known as organized baseball. Under the direction of the Commissioner, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts. The commissioner is chosen by a vote of the owners of the teams. The current commissioner is Rob Manfred, who assumed office on January 25, 2015.

Golden age of baseball

The Golden Age of Baseball, or Baseball's Golden Era, is the period from about 1920 to 1960. The golden era is the time period immediately following the dead-ball era (before World War I) but prior to what is now called the modern era. There is no exact timeframe in any of these eras. MLB considers the post World War II era to be the beginning of the modern age, which places the golden era between the end of World War I and the end of World War II.

Much of baseball's golden age was captured in black and white film, adding to the mystique and folklore of the game. The first baseball game broadcast in color was in August 11, 1951, and by the mid-1960s all baseball games were broadcast in color, which could be viewed as the end of the golden age.

Harry Taylor (1946–52 pitcher)

James Harry Taylor (May 20, 1919 – November 5, 2000) was an American professional baseball player. He was a right-handed pitcher who appeared in 90 games, 44 as a starter, in Major League Baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1946–48) and Boston Red Sox (1950–52). The native of East Glenn, Indiana, stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79 kg).

Taylor's professional career lasted from 1938 through 1955, with five seasons (1941–45) missed due to United States Army service in World War II and another two (1953–54) out of organized baseball in the semipro ranks. He spent the entire 1947 campaign on the Dodgers' big-league roster, winning ten of 15 decisions with 20 starting assignments and two shutouts. It was an eventful season for Brooklyn that saw Jackie Robinson break the baseball color line in the Major Leagues, manager Leo Durocher's season-long suspension for "conduct detrimental to baseball", and the Dodgers win their seventh overall National League pennant.

Taylor was the Dodgers' starting pitcher in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series on October 3 at Ebbets Field. Matched against the New York Yankees' Bill Bevens, Taylor failed to record an out, facing four batters in the first inning and allowing two singles, a base on balls, a fielder's choice (the batter reaching on an error) and an unearned run before being relieved by Hal Gregg, who got out of the inning without further scoring. Bevens, meanwhile, threw 8​2⁄3 innings of no-hit baseball. But the Yankee hurler allowed ten bases on balls, and his no-hitter and game were ruined by pinch hitter Cookie Lavagetto's double, the Dodgers winning what some call "The Cookie Game", 3–2.

Taylor returned to the minor leagues during the 1948 season, and spent almost all of the following two years at Triple-A. But in September 1950, his contract was purchased by the Red Sox, who were chasing the Yankees and Detroit Tigers in the American League pennant race. After one game in relief, he threw two complete game victories, September 25 against the Philadelphia Athletics (a two-hit shutout) and October 1 against the Yankees. But Boston fell short in the standings, finishing in third place, four games behind the Yankees.

In his 90 MLB games, Taylor worked 357​2⁄3 innings pitched, and allowed 344 hits and 201 bases on balls. He recorded 127 strikeouts, 16 complete games and four saves.

Héctor López

Héctor Headley López Swainson (born July 8, 1929) is a former left fielder and third baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Kansas City Athletics and New York Yankees from 1955 to 1966. He is notable as the first black manager at the Triple-A baseball level, as the third outfielder on the Maris/Mantle Yankees, and as the Kansas City Athletics franchise hitting streak record holder. López was on World Series Championship teams for the Yankees in 1961 and 1962. In various seasons, he finished among the top 10 American League hitters in hits, runs batted in, runs scored, doubles, triples, slugging percentage, sacrifice flies, sacrifice hits, games played, times hit by pitch and at bats. He was also known for his hustle, his clutch hitting and poor fielding.

López was the second Panamanian-born major league baseball player and continues to be one of the country's most revered world champion athletes. Although Humberto Robinson (102 games played/5 seasons) debuted in the major leagues 22 days earlier than López, López (1,450 games played/12 seasons) was the first of the 49 major leaguers born in Panama to have an extensive career. He was the first Panamanian-born major leaguer to finish in the top 10 in any official statistical category (sacrifice hits, 1956); first to lead his league in any official statistic (sacrifice flies, 1958); first to play in the World Series (with the 1960 Yankees); and the first to win a World Championship (with the 1961 Yankees).

He was an infielder for the Athletics, and later was often the third outfielder on the Maris/Mantle Yankees of the early and mid-1960s. López had his most successful season in 1959, but continued to contribute effectively during the early 1960s during their pennant successes. The utility player divided his career almost equally between infield and outfield positions. After retiring from baseball, he went on to become a groundbreaking manager in minor league baseball as the first to break the baseball color line as a black manager at the Triple-A level for the Buffalo Bisons and then served in various international managerial and coaching positions.

Jackie Robinson

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. When the Dodgers signed Robinson, they heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.Robinson had an exceptional 10-year MLB career. He was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949—the first black player so honored. Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship.

In 1997, MLB retired his uniform number 42 across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. MLB also adopted a new annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day", for the first time on April 15, 2004, on which every player on every team wears No. 42.

Robinson's character, his use of nonviolence, and his unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation which had then marked many other aspects of American life. He influenced the culture of and contributed significantly to the civil rights movement. Robinson also was the first black television analyst in MLB and the first black vice president of a major American corporation, Chock full o'Nuts. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. After his death in 1972, in recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Jackie Robinson Day

Jackie Robinson Day is a traditional event which occurs annually in Major League Baseball, commemorating and honoring the day Jackie Robinson made his major league debut. April 15 was Opening Day in 1947, Robinson's first season in the Major Leagues. Initiated for the first time on April 15, 2004, Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated each year on that day. The festivity is a result of Robinson's memorable career, best known for becoming the first black major league baseball player of the modern era in 1947. His debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers (today known as the Los Angeles Dodgers) ended approximately 80 years of baseball segregation, also known as the baseball color line, or color barrier. He also was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, remembered for his services with the number 42 jersey.The gala is celebrated at varied ballparks by Major League team players. On that one day, all players, coaches, and managers on both teams, and the umpires, wear #42 on their jerseys.

Shea Stadium was one of the prominent venues hosting the event, having commemorated the retirement of Robinson's number 42 jersey in 1997. Bob DuPuy, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball, described Jackie Robinson Day as a significance "not only for baseball, but for our country in general."

Jersey City Giants

The Jersey City Giants was the name of a high-level American minor league baseball franchise that played in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the top farm system affiliate of the New York Giants from 1937 through 1950. The Jersey City club played in the International League (Class AA 1912–1945 and Class AAA since 1946). They were commonly referred to as the Little Giants.

Jersey City hosted numerous minor league teams before and since the Giants, including 1½ seasons (from July 13, 1960 through the end of 1961) as the home of the relocated Havana Sugar Kings International League franchise; that club, a Cincinnati Reds affiliate, was nicknamed the Jersey City Jerseys and included many Cuban players who had taken the field in Havana.

The city's earliest IL team, which played from 1912–1933 (except for a four-year hiatus during the Federal League period and the outbreak of World War I), was called the Skeeters. But the Jersey Giants were a notable team because they sent a number of star players (including Sal Maglie, Whitey Lockman and Monte Irvin) across the river to their Major-League namesake.

In addition, the baseball color line was broken in Jersey City's Roosevelt Stadium when Jackie Robinson of the Montreal Royals made his organized baseball debut there as a visitor on April 18, 1946. Robinson made a spectacular playing debut with four hits in five at-bats, including a home run in a game that ended with a 14-1 win for the Royals. A decade later, in 1956–1957, Roosevelt Stadium would host select Dodger home games as owner Walter O'Malley parried with public officials over a new stadium in Brooklyn. The Dodgers (and the MLB Giants) ultimately abandoned New York for California in 1958.

Although they won league titles in 1939 and 1947, the Jersey Giants usually struggled to reach .500. And, like their neighbors, the Newark Bears, they found it impossible to compete when the three New York MLB teams began mass radio and television broadcasts of their games. Jersey City's attendance plunged from 337,000 in 1947 to 63,000 in 1950. The franchise moved to Ottawa, Ontario, in 1951 and became the Ottawa Giants. Today, the team is known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

John W. Patterson

John W. Patterson (March 2, 1872 – August 23, 1940) was an African-American baseball outfielder in the Negro Leagues. He played for major teams from 1893 to 1907.

Patterson debuted with the Lincoln, Nebraska Giants of 1890, a black team, and played for the Plattsmouth club in the Nebraska State League during the 1892 season, before the baseball color line was sharply drawn. In 1893 he joined the Cuban Giants and won a starting position for 1894.

He played with the Page Fence Giants which eventually became the Chicago Columbia Giants in 1899 where Patterson was a manager and outfielder.

He appeared on teams lists in Chicago from 1899 to 1902,. then played a year for the Philadelphia Giants, then moved on to the Cuban X-Giants, then the Brooklyn Royal Giants.

Fellow 1904 teammate Jimmy Smith called Patterson "one of the brainiest and shrewdest leaders of any team of color."Patterson played as late as 1908 for the Philadelphia Giants.

After his baseball career, John W. Patterson became the first African-American police officer in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1909. He served as an officer for over 30 years, and was a friend of heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson. Patterson ruptured his groin on the job in 1940, which later became infected. He died later that year.

List of Major League Baseball players from Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico currently has the fourth-most active players in Major League Baseball (MLB) among Latin American jurisdictions, behind the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Cuba. More than two hundred players from the archipelago have played in the major leagues since 1942. This includes players who were born in either one of the archipelago's islands and those of Puerto Rican heritage who have represented Puerto Rico in international competition. Only those players who have worked in the league are listed, not those active in the minor leagues.

The first player from Puerto Rico to play in MLB was Hiram Bithorn. After the baseball color line was abandoned following Jackie Robinson's debut in the league, more players from the island signed contracts. This led to an improvement in their performance, and some of them were selected to participate in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Including their names in the Major League Baseball draft is a requisite for first-year players born in Puerto Rico, because the league recognizes the island as a jurisdiction within the United States. Following the implementation of this measure, Puerto Rico's government requested exclusion from the draft and help to develop players, in order to reduce the impact of the change in the format of talent development.

List of Negro league baseball champions

This List of Negro league baseball champions includes champions of black baseball prior to the organization of any traditional Negro league and goes through to the collapse of segregated baseball after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line in 1946. Champions include self-declared, regional and (later) league champions, but is limited to top-tier teams and major Negro leagues. The champions listed after 1948 through the 1950s are listed for posterity, but the quality of play had deteriorated so far as to only incidentally be covered by contemporary media or historians.

List of first black Major League Baseball players

Below is a list of the first black players in Major League Baseball in chronological order.

The baseball color line excluded players of black African descent from Major League Baseball and its affiliated Minor Leagues until 1947 (with a few notable exceptions in the 19th century before the line was firmly established).

Before 1885 at least three African-American men played in the major leagues--William Edward White, whose light skin color allowed him pass as white, played one game for the Providence Grays in 1879; Moses Fleetwood Walker, an openly black man who played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association between May 1 and September 4, 1884; and his brother, Welday Walker, who played five games with the Toledo club between July 15 and August 6, 1884. Baseball officials essentially drew the color line against Fleetwood Walker. African-Americans had been excluded from major league baseball since 1884 and from white professional minor league teams since 1889. Following the 1891 season, the Ansonia Cuban Giants, a team composed of African-American players, were expelled from the Connecticut State League, the last white minor league to have a black team.

The Brooklyn Dodgers broke the 63-year color line when they started future Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson at first base on Opening Day, April 15, 1947. The Boston Red Sox were the last team to break the line, when they inserted Pumpsie Green as an eighth-inning pinch runner in a July 21, 1959 game at Chicago.

Lynn Red Sox

The Lynn Red Sox, based in Lynn, Massachusetts, were a Class B farm system affiliate of the Boston Red Sox from 1946 to 1948 in American minor league baseball. The club played at Fraser Field and was a member of the New England League (NEL).

The Lynn Red Sox finished in first place during the regular seasons of 1946–47–48, but each year faltered during the playoffs, as the Nashua Dodgers won the NEL playoff championship for three consecutive seasons. Nashua was the first NEL team to break the baseball color line and, in 1946, ugly confrontations were reported between the Nashua and Lynn clubs. Future Brooklyn Dodger star starting pitcher Don Newcombe integrated the NEL in 1946, along with eventual Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella.

"I remember one game against the Lynn Red Sox", Newcombe recalled in 2007. "Their manager, ‘Pip’ Kennedy, was all over us, yelling all kinds of [racial] things at us, and Mr. [Buzzie] Bavasi [the Nashua general manager and future Dodger executive] got him into the office and said, ‘They can’t fight you, but I can. If you have any guts, you’ll say to me what you said to them.’ Of course, he didn’t say a word."In 1947, Lynn received an upgraded management team when future Bosox general manager Dick O'Connell took over the front office, and former Major League pitcher Mike Ryba became manager. After one season, Ryba was succeeded as pilot by Eddie Popowski in 1948.

But the Red Sox pulled out of Lynn after a 1948 season in which only 49,000 fans turned out at Fraser Field, despite another first-place ballclub. The Essex County city fielded a Detroit Tigers farm club—the Lynn Tigers—for the first three months of 1949 but withdrew from the league July 19. The NEL itself shut down at the end of the season.

Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award

In Major League Baseball, the Rookie of the Year Award is annually given to one player from each league as voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). The award was established in 1940 by the Chicago chapter of the BBWAA, which selected an annual winner from 1940 through 1946. The award became national in 1947; Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers' second baseman, won the inaugural award. One award was presented for both leagues in 1947 and 1948; since 1949, the honor has been given to one player each in the National and American League. Originally, the award was known as the J. Louis Comiskey Memorial Award, named after the Chicago White Sox owner of the 1930s. The award was renamed the Jackie Robinson Award in July 1987, 40 years after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line.

Of the 140 players named Rookie of the Year (as of 2016), 16 have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame—Jackie Robinson, five American League players, and ten others from the National League. The award has been shared twice: once by Butch Metzger and Pat Zachry of the National League in 1976; and once by John Castino and Alfredo Griffin of the American League in 1979. Members of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers have won the most awards of any franchise (with 18), twice the total of the New York Yankees, and members of the Philadelphia and Oakland Athletics (eight), who have produced the most in the American League. Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki are the only two players who have been named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same year, and Fernando Valenzuela is the only player to have won Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same year. Sam Jethroe is the oldest player to have won the award, at age 32, 33 days older than 2000 winner Kazuhiro Sasaki (also 32). Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves are the most recent winners.

San Diego Padres retired numbers

The San Diego Padres are an American professional baseball team in Major League Baseball (MLB) based in San Diego, California. The club was founded in 1969 as part of the league's expansion. MLB clubs have retired various uniform numbers, ensuring that those numbers are never worn within the respective clubs in honor of a particular player or manager of note. The Padres no longer issue six numbers that have been retired. The numbers are commemorated at the team's home stadium at Petco Park in a display at the park entrance as well as in the Ring of Honor.

Steve Garvey was the first player to have his number retired by the Padres in 1988. The first baseman had retired during the offseason, and his No. 6 was being worn by Keith Moreland, who switched to No. 7 after presenting Garvey with a framed Padres No. 6 jersey during a pregame ceremony. Garvey played only five seasons with San Diego, but hit the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Lee Smith of the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the 1984 National League Championship Series (NLCS), tying the series before the Padres won the next day. He was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player, and San Diego advanced to their first World Series. In 2016, The San Diego Union-Tribune ranked Garvey's Game 4 homer as the No. 1 moment in San Diego sports history. However, he played 14 of his 19 seasons with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was also more productive, and the retirement of his number by San Diego has been heavily debated.On April 15, 1997, exactly 50 years after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line, the No. 42 he wore with the Brooklyn Dodgers was retired throughout major league baseball. Later that year, Randy Jones's No. 35 was retired by the Padres. He was a two-time All-Star in 1975 and 1976, when he was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year a year before becoming the club's first Cy Young Award winner in 1976. On the day his number was retired, the Union-Tribune wrote that Jones was "the most popular athlete in the history of this city" during the mid-1970s until his career was derailed by a severed nerve in his left arm. His starts at home would spike attendance by the thousands, and the crowd began a tradition on Opening Day in 1976 of greeting him with a pregame ovation.Dave Winfield was next to have his No. 31 retired in 2001, when he was also inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His retirement ceremony also celebrated his decision to be the first member of the Hall of Fame to have his plaque depicted with him wearing a Padres cap. Winfield played for six teams in his 22-year career, spending his first eight seasons in San Diego followed by eight with the New York Yankees. In 2004, the Padres retired No. 19 in honor of Tony Gwynn, who is widely considered the greatest Padres player ever. He played his entire 20-year career with San Diego and won an NL-record eight batting titles. The most recent number to be retired was Trevor Hoffman's No. 51 in 2011. He had retired from playing after 2010, when he left the game as MLB's career leader in saves with 601, including 552 with the Padres.

The Padres' retired numbers are displayed at Petco Park at Home Plate Plaza. Fans are allowed to pose for pictures next to the aluminum numbers, which are 3 feet 11 inches (1.19 m) high, 5 1⁄3 feet (1.6 m) wide, and 1 foot (0.30 m) deep. Originally, the numbers were atop the batter's eye in center field, until they were relocated in 2016. The numbers were not ready for display in time for the park's opening in 2004, but they were unveiled midseason. Also beginning in 2016, the numbers are displayed in the Ring of Honor on the upper deck façade above the press box behind home plate.Prior to moving to Petco, the team played at Qualcomm Stadium, where the retired numbers were originally displayed on banners hanging from the light towers above the left field stands. However, Garvey's number was commemorated instead on the wall behind the spot in right‑center field where his legendary winning home run in the 1984 NLCS cleared the fence, but the number disappeared when the stadium was expanded in 1997 and the location was masked by an overhang. It reappeared in 2002 when all the retired numbers were moved and inscribed on the outfield fence.

Walt McCredie

Walter Henry McCredie (November 9, 1876 in Manchester, Iowa – July 29, 1934 in Portland, Oregon), was a professional baseball player who played outfield for the Brooklyn Superbas during the 1903 baseball season. He managed for 18 years in the minor leagues, from 1905-1921 and 1934, 17 years of which was for the Portland Beavers, and one year of which (1917) was with the Salt Lake City Bees, both of the Pacific Coast League.

West Coast Negro Baseball Association

The West Coast Negro Baseball Association (WCNBA) was a Negro baseball league which operated in 1946. It was founded by Abe Saperstein and Jesse Owens. It is considered a minor league as it did not compete for talent with the established Negro National League or Negro American League. The teams that played with the WCNBA had sometimes did horse races to entertain their viewers in Doubleheader Games. By the time the WCNBA was organized, quality black talent was beginning to be siphoned off by white leagues due to Jackie Robinson's breaking of the baseball color line the same year. After two months of the league being created, it had been disbanded and the league no longer existed.

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