Monte Irvin

Monford Merrill "Monte" Irvin (February 25, 1919 – January 11, 2016) was an American left fielder and right fielder in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball (MLB) who played with the Newark Eagles (1938–42, 1946–48), New York Giants (1949–55) and Chicago Cubs (1956). He grew up in New Jersey and was a standout football player at Lincoln University. Irvin left Lincoln to spend several seasons in Negro league baseball. His career was interrupted by military service from 1943 to 1945.

When he joined the New York Giants, Irvin became one of the earliest African-American MLB players. He played in two World Series for the Giants. When future Hall of Famer Willie Mays joined the Giants in 1951, Irvin was asked to mentor him. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. After his playing career, Irvin was a baseball scout and held an administrative role with the MLB commissioner's office.

At the time of his death, Irvin was the oldest living former Negro Leagues player, New York Giant and Chicago Cub. He lived in a retirement community in Houston prior to his death.

Monte Irvin
Monte Irvin 1953
Irvin circa 1953
Left fielder
Born: February 25, 1919
Haleburg, Alabama
Died: January 11, 2016 (aged 96)
Houston, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 8, 1949, for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1956, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Batting average.293
Home runs99
Runs batted in443
Teams
Negro leagues

Major League Baseball

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction1973
Election MethodNegro Leagues Committee
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1942–1945
RankSergeant
Unit1313th Battalion
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early life

Irvin was born February 25, 1919,[1] in Haleburg, Alabama, and was the eighth of 13 children. As a child, he moved with his family to Orange, New Jersey. In high school, he starred in four sports and set a state record in the javelin throw. Irvin played baseball for the Orange Triangles, the local semiprofessional team, and he credited its coach with giving him an activity that helped him to stay out of trouble. He was offered a football scholarship to the University of Michigan, but he had to turn it down because he did not have enough money to move to Ann Arbor.[2]

Irvin attended Lincoln University and was a star football player. However, he had disagreements with his coach and he found that he could not remain on his athletic scholarship and pursue predentistry studies. As his frustration mounted, Irvin began to be recruited by Negro league baseball teams.[2]

Negro league and Mexican League career

Irvin played for the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League in 1938. Larry Doby, the first player to break the color barrier in the American League, was Irvin's double play partner with Newark at one time.[3] After hitting for high batting averages of .422 and .396 (1940–41), Irvin asked for a raise before the 1942 season. When that was denied, he left the Negro leagues for the Mexican League, where he won a triple crown; he had a .397 batting average and 20 home runs in 63 games.[4][5]

World War II

Following the 1942 Mexican League season, Irvin was drafted into military service. Joining the army's GS Engineers, 1313th Battalion, for the next three years, Irvin was deployed to England, France and Belgium, and he served in the Battle of the Bulge. Irvin said that while many black soldiers had been treated badly by their white counterparts, the situation improved for black soldiers as many white soldiers realized the contradiction in an oppressed group being sent to Europe to fight for the oppressed people in other countries. Irvin's military service left him with ringing in the ears, which affected his coordination.[6]

Return to baseball

After World War II, Irvin was approached by Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey about being signed for the major leagues, but Irvin felt he was not ready to play at that level so soon after leaving the service.[7] The Newark Eagles business manager, Effa Manley, would not let Rickey sign Irvin without compensation. Rickey had already obtained Jackie Robinson without paying for his rights to his Negro league clubs. Said Irvin,

... from a purely business standpoint, Mrs. Manley felt that Branch Rickey was obligated to compensate her for my contract. That position probably delayed my entry into the major leagues ... Mrs. Manley told Rickey that he had taken Don Newcombe for no money but she wasn't going to let him take me without some compensation. Furthermore, if he tried to do it, she would sue and fight him in court ... Rickey contacted her to say he was no longer interested released me ... the Giants picked up my contract ...[8]:p.277

Irvin earned MVP honors in the 1945–46 Puerto Rican Winter League. He returned to the Newark Eagles in 1946 to lead his team to a league pennant. Irvin won his second batting championship, hitting .401, and was instrumental in beating the Kansas City Monarchs in a seven-game Negro League World Series, batting .462 with three home runs. He was a five-time Negro League All-Star (1941, 1946–48, including two games in 1946). He spent the winter of 1948–49 in Cuba.

MLB career

In 1949, the New York Giants paid $5,000 for his contract. He was one of the first black players to be signed, as Jackie Robinson had only broken the MLB color line in 1947. Assigned to Jersey City of the International League, Irvin batted .373. He debuted with the Giants on July 8, 1949 as a pinch-hitter. Back with Jersey City in 1950, he was called up after hitting .510 with ten home runs in 18 games. Irvin batted .299 for the Giants that season, playing first base and the outfield.

In 1951, Irvin sparked the Giants' miraculous comeback to overtake the Dodgers in the pennant race, batting .312 with 24 homers and a league-best 121 runs batted in (RBI), en route to the World Series (he went 11–24 for .458). In the third game of the playoff between the Giants and Dodgers, Irvin popped out in the bottom of the ninth inning before Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard 'Round the World. That year Irvin teamed with Hank Thompson and Willie Mays to form the first all-black outfield in the majors. Later, he finished third in the NL's MVP voting.

During that season, Giants manager Leo Durocher asked Irvin to serve as a mentor for Mays, who had been called up to the team in May. Mays later said, "In my time, when I was coming up, you had to have some kind of guidance. And Monte was like my brother ... I couldn't go anywhere without him, especially on the road ... It was just a treat to be around him. I didn't understand life in New York until I met Monte. He knew everything about what was going on and he protected me dearly."[9] Irvin later replied, "I did that for two years and in the third year he started showing me around."[9]

Irvin was named to his only Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1952, despite having sustained a broken leg in April. He appeared in only 46 games that season, hitting .310 with four home runs and 21 RBI.[10][11] He hit .329 with 21 HR and 97 RBI in 1953, finishing 15th in the league MVP voting. For the 1954 season, he hit .262 with 19 HR and 64 RBI.[11] The Giants won that year's World Series in four games, while Irvin collected two hits in nine at bats.[12]

In 1955, Irvin had been sent down to the minor leagues, where he hit 14 home runs in 75 games for the Minneapolis Millers. The Chicago Cubs signed him before the 1956 season. The team said that he would compete with Hank Sauer for a starting position in left field.[13] Irvin appeared in 111 games for the Cubs that year, hitting .271 with 15 home runs.[11]

A back injury led to Irvin's retirement as a player in 1957. He sustained the injury during spring training that year and only appeared in four minor league games for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.[14] In his major league career, Irvin batted .293, with 99 home runs, 443 RBI, 366 runs scored, 731 hits, 97 doubles, 31 triples, and 28 stolen bases, with 351 walks for a .383 on-base percentage, and 1187 total bases for a .475 slugging average in 764 games played.[11]

Later life

Monte appeared on an episode of To Tell The Truth dated May 22, 1961.

Monte Irvin number retirement
Irvin at his number retirement ceremony, 2010

After retiring, Irvin worked as a representative for the Rheingold beer company,[15] and later as a scout for the New York Mets from 1967 to 1968. He was named an MLB public relations specialist for the commissioner's office under Bowie Kuhn in 1968. The appointment made him the first black executive in professional baseball.[16] He was elected to the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.[17] The next year, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, primarily on the basis of his play in the Negro leagues.

In 1974, Kuhn was present in Cincinnati when Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's record of 714 career home runs. When the team came back to Atlanta, Kuhn sent Irvin in his place, so Kuhn was not present for Aaron's 715th home run. Even as late as 1980, Aaron was so angry at Kuhn that he did not attend an event where Kuhn was to present him with an award.[18]

Irvin stepped down from his role with the commissioner when Kuhn announced his retirement in 1984.[19] He retired to Florida, but he accepted an MLB role involving special projects and appearances.[20]

In May 16, 2006, Orange Park in the city of Orange, New Jersey was renamed Monte Irvin Park, in his honor.[21]

On June 26, 2010, the San Francisco Giants officially retired his number 20 uniform. He was joined by fellow Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Orlando Cepeda in the pre-game ceremony.[22] He later joined those same Giants Hall of Famers in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of Game 1 of 2010 World Series.[23] In 2015, he was presented a 2014 World Series ring by Giants executives and later joined the Giants in visiting the White House.[24][25]

On January 11, 2016, Irvin died of natural causes in Houston at the age of 96.[26] At the time of his death, Irvin was the oldest living African American to have played in the major leagues, as well as the oldest living member of a World Series-winning team. Prior to his death, he lived in a retirement community in Houston.[27] He also served on the Veterans Committee of the Hall of Fame. The Giants wore a patch in his memory for the 2016 season, a black circle with an orange outline with "Monte" on top of his number 20, to be worn on the left sleeve.[28]

On October 19, 2016, a life-sized bronze statue of Irvin was dedicated in Monte Irvin Park.[29]

Career statistics

Negro leagues

The first official statistics for the Negro leagues were compiled as part of a statistical study sponsored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and supervised by Larry Lester and Dick Clark, in which a research team collected statistics from thousands of boxscores of league-sanctioned games.[30] The first results from this study were the statistics for Negro league Hall of Famers elected prior to 2006, which were published in Shades of Glory by Lawrence D. Hogan. These statistics include the official Negro league statistics for Monte Irvin:

Year Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA SLG
1938 Newark 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
1939 Newark 21 76 11 22 2 1 2 11 0 7 .289 .421
1940 Newark 35 131 26 46 9 4 3 36 2 12 .351 .550
1941 Newark 34 126 28 50 11 1 5 36 7 10 .397 .619
1942 Newark 4 18 7 11 3 1 1 11 0 0 .611 1.056
1945 Newark 1 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .200 .200
1946 Newark – c 40 149 34 57 8 2 6 36 3 16 .383 .584
1947 Newark 13 48 13 16 1 0 4 10 1 8 .333 .604
1948 Newark 9 30 6 7 0 0 2 5 2 4 .233 .433
Total 9 seasons 159 587 125 210 34 9 23 146 15 57 .358 .564
   c = pennant and Negro League World Series championship.

Source:[31]

Mexican League

Year Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA SLG
1942 Veracruz 63 237 74 94 17 6 20* 79 11 50 .397* .772
   * – led league.

Source:[32]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Schudel, Matt (2016-01-12). "Monte Irvin, Hall of Fame baseball star who began in Negro leagues, dies at 96". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
  2. ^ a b Dorinson, Joseph; Warmund, Joram (1998). Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports, and the American Dream. M. E. Sharpe. p. 33. ISBN 0765633388. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  3. ^ Coyne, Kevin (April 27, 2008). "Black baseball's rich legacy". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  4. ^ Burkett, Samantha (January 12, 2016). "Remembering Monte Irvin". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  5. ^ Justice, Richard; Haft, Chris (January 12, 2016). Hall of Famer, trailblazer Irvin dies at 96. MLB.com. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "Monte Irvin". www.baseballinwartime.com. May 13, 2007. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  7. ^ Monte Irvin. Baseball in Wartime. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  8. ^ Simons, William M. Alvin L. Hall (ed.). The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 2000. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0786411201.
  9. ^ a b Haft, Chris (April 13, 2012). "Irvin played big part in Mays' ascension". MLB.com. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  10. ^ Lacy, Sam (April 8, 1952). "Bums, to a man, regret injury to Monte Irvin". Baltimore Afro-American. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d "Monte Irvin Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  12. ^ "1954 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  13. ^ "Monte Irvin signs Cubs' contract". Baltimore Afro-American. January 3, 1956. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  14. ^ "Aching back puts Irvin out for good". Milwaukee Sentinel. May 12, 1957. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  15. ^ To Tell the Truth, CBS, May 22, 1961 episode
  16. ^ "Monte Irvin joins staff in New York". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 22, 1968. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  17. ^ "Cards get Cuozzo; Stasiuk fired". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. April 27, 1972. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  18. ^ "Angered Aaron snubs Kuhn at award ceremony". Lakeland Ledger. January 29, 1980. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  19. ^ "Irvin to retire with Kuhn". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. January 18, 1984. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  20. ^ Bock, Hal (March 1, 1984). "Monte Irvin a class guy". Lewiston Journal. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  21. ^ "Monte Irvin | In Honor". www.state.nj.us. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  22. ^ "Giants to retire uniform #20 worn by Monte Irvin". San Francisco Giants.
  23. ^ "Giants greats, sans Mays, take part in pregame". Major League Baseball.
  24. ^ Shea, John (May 13, 2015). "Monte Irvin, 96, gets his Giants ring from Larry Baer, Bobby Evans". San Francisco Chronicle.
  25. ^ Baggarly, Andrew (June 4, 2015). "Giants visit White House for World Series celebration". San Jose Mercury News.
  26. ^ "Hall of Famer Monte Irvin dies at 96". USA Today. January 12, 2016.
  27. ^ Barron, David (May 28, 2014). "Hall of Famer Irvin laments diminishing number of African-Americans in baseball". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  28. ^ @SFGiants (March 29, 2016). "The #SFGiants will wear patches on their sleeve in honor of @BaseballHall of Famer Monte Irvin and Jim Davenport" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ "Essex County Dedicates Monte Irvin Statue in (Monte Irvin) Orange Park". TAPinto. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  30. ^ Hogan, p. 381.
  31. ^ Hogan, pp. 390–391.
  32. ^ Treto Cisneros, p. 27, 31, 293.

References

  • Clark, Dick; Lester, Larry (1994), The Negro Leagues Book, Cleveland, Ohio: Society for American Baseball Research
  • Hogan, Lawrence D. (2006), Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, ISBN 0-7922-5306-X
  • Holway, John B. (2001), The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues: The Other Half of Baseball History, Fern Park, Florida: Hastings House Publishers, ISBN 0-8038-2007-0
  • Riley, James A. (1994), The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf, ISBN 0-7867-0959-6
  • Treto Cisneros, Pedro (2002), The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics, 1937–2001, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, ISBN 0-7864-1378-6

Further reading

External links

1949 Caribbean Series

The first edition of the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was played in 1949. It was held from February 20 through February 25 with the champion baseball teams of Cuba, Alacranes del Almendares; Panama, Spur Cola Colonites; Puerto Rico, Indios de Mayagüez and Venezuela, Cervecería Caracas. The format consisted of 12 games, each team facing the other teams twice, and the games were played at the Del Cerro Stadium in Havana, Cuba, which boosted capacity to 35.000 seats. The first pitch was thrown by George Trautman, by then the president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

1949 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1949 New York Giants season was the franchise's 67th season. The team finished in fifth place in the National League with a 73-81 record, 24 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers. The games were now broadcast on the then new station WPIX-TV, which was launched the year before.

1951 National League tie-breaker series

The 1951 National League tie-breaker series was a best-of-three playoff series at the conclusion of Major League Baseball's (MLB) 1951 regular season to decide the winner of the National League (NL) pennant. The games were played on October 1, 2, and 3, 1951, between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. It was necessary after both teams finished the season with identical win–loss records of 96–58. It is most famous for the walk-off home run hit by Bobby Thomson of the Giants in the deciding game, which has come to be known as baseball's "Shot Heard 'Round the World".

This was the second three-game playoff in NL history. After no tiebreakers had been needed since the American League (AL) became a major league in 1901, this was the third such tie in the previous six seasons. The Dodgers had been involved in the previous one as well, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1946 season in two straight games. In addition to the 1946 series, the AL had a one-game playoff in 1948.

The Giants won game one, while the Dodgers came back to win game two. After trailing for most of game three, the Giants rallied to win the game and the series. Consequently, they advanced to the 1951 World Series, in which they were defeated by the New York Yankees. In baseball statistics, the tie-breaker series counted as the 155th, 156th, and 157th regular season games by both teams; all events in the games were added to regular season statistics.

1951 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1951 New York Giants season was the franchise's 69th season and saw the Giants finish the regular season in a tie for first place in the National League with a record of 96 wins and 58 losses. This prompted a three-game playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers, which the Giants won in three games, clinched by Bobby Thomson's walk-off home run, a moment immortalized as the Shot Heard 'Round the World. The Giants, however, lost the 1951 World Series to the New York Yankees in six games.

1951 World Series

The 1951 World Series matched the two-time defending champion New York Yankees against the New York Giants, who had won the National League pennant in a thrilling three-game playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers on the legendary home run by Bobby Thomson (the Shot Heard 'Round the World).

In the Series, the Yankees showed some power of their own, including Gil McDougald's grand slam home run in Game 5, at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees won the Series in six games, for their third straight title and 14th overall. This would be the last World Series for Joe DiMaggio, who retired afterward, and the first for rookies Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

This was the last Subway Series the Giants played in. Both teams would meet again eleven years later after the Giants relocated to San Francisco. They have not played a World Series against each other since. This was the first World Series announced by Bob Sheppard, who was in his first year as Yankee Stadium's public address announcer. It was also the first World Series to be televised nationwide, as coaxial cable had recently linked both coasts.

1952 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1952 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 19th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 8, 1952, at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the home of the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 3–2 in 5 innings. It was the first All-Star Game—and to date, the only—to be called early due to rain.

Mickey Mantle was selected an All-Star for the first time, as was pitcher Satchel Paige, who a day before the game turned 46 years old. Neither appeared in the game.

1954 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1954 New York Giants season was the franchise's 72nd season. The Giants won the National League pennant with a record of 97 wins and 57 losses and then defeated the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

1954 World Series

The 1954 World Series matched the National League champion New York Giants against the American League champion Cleveland Indians. The Giants swept the Series in four games to win their first championship since 1933, defeating the heavily favored Indians, who had won an AL-record 111 games in the regular season (a record since broken by the 1998 New York Yankees with 114 and again by the 2001 Seattle Mariners with 116, tying the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most wins in a season). The Series is perhaps best-remembered for "The Catch", a sensational running catch made by Giants center fielder Willie Mays in Game 1, snaring a long drive by Vic Wertz near the outfield wall with his back to the infield. It is also remembered for utility player Dusty Rhodes' clutch hitting in three of the four games, including his pinch walk-off "Chinese home run" that won Game 1, barely clearing the 258-foot (79 m) right-field fence at the Polo Grounds. Giants manager Leo Durocher, who had managed teams to three National League championships, won his first and only World Series title as a manager. The Giants, who would move west to become the San Francisco Giants, would not win a World Series again until the 2010 season.

This was the first time that the Indians had been swept in a World Series and the first time that the Giants had swept an opponent in four games (their 1922 World Series sweep included a controversial tie game). Game 2 was the last World Series and playoff game at the Polo Grounds, and Game 4 was the last World Series and playoff game at Cleveland Stadium. The Indians would be kept out of the World Series until 1995, a year after Jacobs Field opened.

1973 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1973 followed the system in place since 1971, except by adding the special election of Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and

elected Warren Spahn.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players.

It selected three people: Billy Evans, George Kelly, and Mickey Welch.

The Negro Leagues Committee also met in person and selected Monte Irvin.

1973 Major League Baseball season

The 1973 Major League Baseball season was the first season of the designated hitter rule in the American League.California Angels ace pitcher Nolan Ryan broke Sandy Koufax's 1965 strikeout record of 382 when he struck out 383 batters during the season.

The Oakland Athletics won their second straight World Series championship in seven games over the New York Mets.

The Kansas City Royals moved their home games from Municipal Stadium to the new Royals Stadium (adjacent to the Chiefs' football facility) and also hosted the 1973 All-Star Game on July 24 with the NL defeating the AL 7–1.

The New York Yankees played their final season at the original Yankee Stadium before the stadium closed for remodeling during the 1974 and 1975 seasons.

On June 19, Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds and Willie Davis of the Los Angeles Dodgers both collect their 2000th career hit. It is a single for Rose against the San Francisco Giants while Davis hits a home run against the Atlanta Braves.

History of the New York Giants (baseball)

The San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball originated in New York City as the New York Gothams in 1883 and were known as the New York Giants from 1885 until the team relocated to San Francisco after the 1957 season. During most of their 75 seasons in New York City, the Giants played home games at various incarnations of the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan.

Numerous inductees of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York played for the New York Giants, including John McGraw, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Willie Mays, Monte Irvin, and Travis Jackson. During the club's tenure in New York, it won five of the franchise's eight World Series wins and 17 of its 23 National League pennants. Famous moments in the Giants' New York history include the 1922 World Series, in which the Giants swept the Yankees in four games, the 1951 home run known as the "Shot Heard 'Round the World", and the defensive feat by Willie Mays during the first game of the 1954 World Series known as "the Catch".

The Giants had intense rivalries with their fellow New York teams the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, facing the Yankees in six World Series and playing the league rival Dodgers multiple times per season. Games between any two of these three teams were known collectively as the Subway Series. The rivalry with the Dodgers continues to be played as the Dodgers joined the Giants in moving also to along the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast in California after the 1957 season when they relocated to Los Angeles. The New York Giants of the National Football League are named after the team.

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 "Mule" Miles

John "Mule" Miles (August 11, 1922 – May 24, 2013) played with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro League from 1946-1949. Nicknamed the "Mule" by his manager Candy Jim Taylor after hitting two home runs in one ball game. Taylor commented that Miles "hit like a mule kicks". Miles is legendary for hitting 11 home runs in 11 straight games. John Miles played alongside baseball stars Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and Monte Irvin. He performed at Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, Comiskey Park, and Griffith Stadium among others.

Miles was inducted into the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in Dallas, Texas on November 4, 2000. He was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame at the Alamodome on February 7, 2003. Mr. Miles is an original Tuskegee Airman Member of the San Antonio Chapter at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

On June 5, 2008, Miles and 29 other former living Negro League players were "drafted" by each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in a recognition of the on-field achievements and historical relevance of 30 mostly forgotten Negro League stars. He was picked by the Seattle Mariners.

Larry Doby

Lawrence Eugene Doby (December 13, 1923 – June 18, 2003) was an American professional baseball player in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball (MLB) who was the second black player to break baseball's color barrier and the first black player in the American League. A native of Camden, South Carolina and three-sport all-state athlete while in high school in Paterson, New Jersey, Doby accepted a basketball scholarship from Long Island University. At 17 years of age, he began his professional baseball career with the Newark Eagles as the team's second baseman. Doby joined the United States Navy during World War II. His military service complete, Doby returned to baseball in 1946, and along with teammate Monte Irvin, helped the Eagles win the Negro League World Series.

In July 1947—three months after Jackie Robinson made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers—Doby broke the MLB color barrier in the American League when he signed a contract to play with Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians. Doby was the first player to go directly to the majors from the Negro leagues. A seven-time All-Star center fielder, Doby and teammate Satchel Paige were the first African-American players to win a World Series championship when the Indians took the crown in 1948. He helped the Indians win a franchise-record 111 games and the AL pennant in 1954, finished second in the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award voting and was the AL's RBI leader and home run champion. He went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Chunichi Dragons before his retirement as a player in 1962.

Doby later served as the second black manager in the majors with the Chicago White Sox, and in 1995 was appointed to a position in the AL's executive office. He also served as a director with the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Hall's Veterans Committee and died in 2003 at the age of 79.

Left fielder

In baseball, a left fielder (LF) is an outfielder who plays defense in left field. Left field is the area of the outfield to the left of a person standing at home plate and facing towards the pitcher's mound. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the left fielder is assigned the number 7.

List of Major League Baseball players (I)

The following is a list of Major League Baseball players, retired or active. As of the end of the 2011 season, there have been 53 players with a last name that begins with I who have been on a major league roster at one point.

List of first black Major League Baseball players

Below is a list of the first black players in Major League Baseball in chronological order, since the abolition of the Baseball color line. 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 a 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.

Orange Park (New Jersey)

Orange Park (formally Monte Irvin Orange Park) is a county park in the City of Orange, in Essex County, New Jersey, United States, located near the city's border with East Orange. The park has a playground, basketball court, soccer field and man-made lake. The park was constructed in 1899 and opened the following year.

Orange resident Frederick W. Kelsey was the main impetus for the creation of the Essex County Park System with the introduction of a resolution that led to the formation of a five-member parks commission in 1894, approved by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Efforts were underway in 1896 to purchase the land in Orange / East Orange, as well as in other areas around the county, with many of the land purchases made anonymously in an effort to avoid tipping off speculators. The property that became Orange Park was acquired in 1897, making it one of the first purchases of land in the Essex County network and one of the nation's oldest parks. The park covers 47.63 acres (19.28 ha), making it the sixth-largest in the county system, and the marshy land was purchased for $17,500. Funds totaling $100,000 were set aside to drain the swamp and to perform the needed improvements in the park. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape design firm, the park informally opened to the public on August 25, 1900.An artificial turf soccer field was reconstructed at the park as part of a $1 million project that was completed in August 2009, including a scoreboard and fencing, with the park to be the home field for the Orange High School Tornados soccer teams. The construction was part of a $5 million series of projects that included redevelopment and improvements to baseball fields, basketball courts and playgrounds. The soccer field was developed with a grant of $100,000 from the U.S. Soccer Foundation, as part of its effort to improve the availability of soccer facilities in underserved communities.The park was renamed in May 2006 for Orange resident and Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, who played for the New York Giants as one of the first African American players in Major League Baseball. A monument was dedicated in the park in April 2007 in memory of Orange Police Detective Kieran T. Shields, who was killed in the park in August 2006 while trying to arrest an armed suspect.

Wilmer Harris

Wilmer Joseph Harris (March 1, 1924 – December 23, 2004) was an African American pitcher who played in Negro league baseball. Listed at 6' 0", 175 lb., he batted and threw right handed.Born in Philadelphia, Wilmer Harris started playing sandlot ball at an early age with the boys of his neighborhood. He attended Central High School for Boys, where he graduated in 1941. In addition, he served as captain for the school's baseball and basketball teams, and also played for the Passon Stars club of the Fairmount Park League, which won four straight championships.Harris was known as having a fearsome curveball. He entered the league in 1945 with the Philadelphia Stars, playing for them his entire eight-year career through 1952. In his debut, he faced pitching legend Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs before a 40000 crowd in the original Yankee Stadium. Late in the year, he struck out Jackie Robinson, by then a rookie who was pinch-hitting for the Monarchs.The highlight of his career came in 1946, while pitching against the Newark Eagles at Connie Mack Stadium. With the bases loaded and no outs, Harris struck out in order three of the greatest hitters in Negro League history: Larry Doby, Lennie Pearson and Monte Irvin, to preserve the victory for his team.In 1947, after the Major League Baseball season ended, Harris played for an All-Star team led by Jackie Robinson, composed of Robinson and other Negro League relevant players. He ended his career with the Stars in 1952, posting a career total of 120 wins and 45 losses for a solid .727 winning percentage.A two-time NBL All-Star, Harris hurled the last three innings for the East Division in the 1951 East-West All-Star Game, allowing two hits without walks or runs while striking out four batters. He earned the save in a 3–1 victory. In 1952, his last season, he pitched again three innings of shutout ball in the East-West Game, surrendering two hits with a walk and did not have a strikeout in a 7–3 loss.Besides this, he also played winter baseball in the professional leagues of Panama (1945), Venezuela (1949) and Dominican Republic (1950).After retiring from baseball, he worked in Jenkintown for SPS Technologies during 37 years, retiring as a supervisor in 1989. He then was employed at Allied Securities Service in Pittsburgh for 12 years.Wilmer Harris died in 2004 in his homeland of Philadelphia at the age of 80. At the time of his death, he was one of only five surviving members of the Philadelphia Stars.He is survived by his Partner: Mary Ann Kennedy, his sister: Alberta, Daughters: Michaila, Sherri, Denise Owens, and Carolyn Carter, Son: Nicholas, Godson: Warren Parker, Grandchildren, Great-Grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

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