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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Pumpsie Green, First Black Player for Boston Red Sox, Dies at 85

On July 21, 1959, Pumpsie Green made his major league debut as an eighth-inning pinch-runner with the Boston Red Sox, then played at shortstop to finish the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.

Green’s appearance was merely a blip in the box score, but his presence in a Red Sox uniform represented a climactic moment in baseball history.

Green, who died on Wednesday at 85 at a hospital in San Leandro, Calif., was the first black player for the Red Sox, the last of the 16 major league franchises of the time to have remained all white. His family confirmed the death in a statement, adding that he had been ill for five months.

In April 1945, the Red Sox, under pressure from a Boston city councilman, gave a brief tryout at Fenway Park to Jackie Robinson and two fellow Negro league players. None of them heard from the Red Sox again.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 18, 2019 at 12:15 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obituaries

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   1. Hank Gillette Posted: July 18, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5862950)
That was the Red Sox curse, not the Bambino.
   2. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 18, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5862963)
No kidding.

Pumpsie got screwed in all this. On any other team he's just another marginal utility infielder trying to stick in the big leagues, but for Yawkey's Red Sox he had all sorts of additional pressures. In the end he became something of an icon of failure, which was completely unfair to him.
   3. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 18, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5863004)
   4. Bote Man Posted: July 18, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5863015)
Ya just don't get great baseball names like "Pumpsie" any more.
   5. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: July 18, 2019 at 05:39 PM (#5863049)

Ya just don't get great baseball names like "Pumpsie" any more.


Tough crowd! You don't care for:

Osiris German
Tito Polo
Boo Vazquez
Durin O'Linger
Jagger Rusconi
Dillon Drabble
Packy Naughton
Gerrion Grim
Blinger Perez
Artemis Kadkhodian
Aldrem Corridor
Xavier Javier
Sherten Apostel
Yeffersson Yannuzzi
Steel Russell
Obie Ricumstrict
Walking Cabrera
Dash Winningham
Sicnarf Loopstock?


   6. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 18, 2019 at 06:03 PM (#5863055)
Tito Polo


I really wish somebody would sign Polo. Him getting blacklisted over an accidental first-base collision is some grade-A bullshit.
   7. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: July 18, 2019 at 07:55 PM (#5863067)
Didn’t he have multiple incidents this year? And I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say that spiking that guy was an accident...
   8. Srul Itza Posted: July 18, 2019 at 08:58 PM (#5863083)
1959.

It took the Red Sox until 1959 to integrate.

As bad as the Yankees look, taking until 1955 to bring up Elston Howard, 1959 is just beyond the pale, to me.
   9. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 18, 2019 at 09:14 PM (#5863090)
It took the Red Sox until 1959 to integrate.

As bad as the Yankees look, taking until 1955 to bring up Elston Howard, 1959 is just beyond the pale, to me.

well, SOME team had to be last-- Tigers didn't integrate until 1958
   10. Tim M Posted: July 18, 2019 at 10:20 PM (#5863099)
Him getting blacklisted over an accidental first-base collision is some grade-A bullshit.


Is there video of the Polo play? Reading up on it, sounds like serious he-said/he-said incident.
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 19, 2019 at 06:48 AM (#5863131)
well, SOME team had to be last-- Tigers didn't integrate until 1958

And Ozzie Virgil made the best of it. After making his Tigers debut at the beginning of an 11 game road trip, when they returned to Briggs Stadium Virgil went 5-for-5 in his first home appearance. He's still alive at 87.
   12. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 19, 2019 at 08:22 AM (#5863133)
Ya just don't get great baseball names like "Pumpsie" any more.
His full real name is Elijah Jerry Green. I assume that Jerry is a family name (possibly Elijah too), but regardless it's a wonderful collision of the Biblical with the prosaic.
   13. Mefisto Posted: July 19, 2019 at 08:58 AM (#5863136)
As bad as the Yankees look, taking until 1955 to bring up Elston Howard, 1959 is just beyond the pale, to me.


I see what you did there.
   14. bobm Posted: July 19, 2019 at 10:04 AM (#5863142)
In April 1945, the Red Sox, under pressure from a Boston city councilman, gave a brief tryout at Fenway Park to Jackie Robinson and two fellow Negro league players. None of them heard from the Red Sox again.


From the Deadspin Forgotten All Star Game article:

In 1945, Isadore Muchnick, a member of Boston’s city council, threatened a Sunday baseball ban in the city if the Braves and Red Sox did not consider integration. Wendell Smith, a writer with the African-American Pittsburgh Courier, allied with Muchnick to arrange a tryout with the Red Sox. On April 16, 1945, Jethroe, Jackie Robinson, and Marvin Williams took the field in Boston, but it was fairly obvious that the Red Sox had no real intention of signing them. After the tryout, [outfielder Sam] Jethroe joked, “We’ll hear from the Red Sox like we’ll hear from Adolf Hitler.”
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: July 19, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5863144)
As bad as the Yankees look, taking until 1955 to bring up Elston Howard, 1959 is just beyond the pale, to me.


The Yankees and Red Sox occupy a particularly ugly niche. They didn't integrate until 8/9 years after clubs in the same city had already done so. They didn't even have the whole "the city isn't ready for it" fig leaf the other bigots did.
   16. villageidiom Posted: July 19, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5863180)
The Yankees and Red Sox occupy a particularly ugly niche. They didn't integrate until 8/9 years after clubs in the same city had already done so. They didn't even have the whole "the city isn't ready for it" fig leaf the other bigots did.
FWIW the Phillies integrated 4 years after the A's, and the Cardinals integrated 7 years after the Browns.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: July 19, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5863187)
FWIW the Phillies integrated 4 years after the A's, and the Cardinals integrated 7 years after the Browns.


Good point. The Cards are right there with the Yanks and Sox on that count.
   18. DanG Posted: July 19, 2019 at 12:32 PM (#5863191)
Earl Wilson probably would have been the Red Sox first Black player if he had not been drafted and spent the 1957 and 1958 seasons in the Marines. From Wilson's SABR bio:

The scouting report sent to the team’s head office is indicative of the racial bias that Wilson had to overcome in his early years as a professional ballplayer. It stated, “He is a well mannered colored boy, not too black, pleasant to talk to, well educated, has a very good appearance and conducts himself as a gentleman.” That year [1953] the Red Sox signed Earl; the first African American to play a game for the Bosox, Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, wasn’t signed until 1956. Still, these were the first two African Americans ever signed by Boston. Earl was drafted into the Marines in 1957. Although he continued to play military ball his opportunity to become the first black player to crack the Red Sox lineup was delivered a setback. It looked like Pumpsie Green would get there first

In 1959, Green had hit .400 during spring training with the parent Sox and was named “Camp Rookie of The Year” by the press. Even with those accomplishments, Green had not secured anything. When writers asked owner Tom Yawkey if Green would make the team, he replied, “The Sox will bring up a Negro if he meets our standards.” By the time camp had broken, General Manager Bucky Harris seemed to indicate that Green had made the team—but this was not the case. Reports were that manager Pinky Higgins had gone to Yawkey and had Harris overruled. Boston sportswriter Al Hirshberg later claimed that Higgins had made the following statement, “There will be no niggers on this team as long as I have anything to do with it.”

The demotion of Green caused a furor among civil rights groups. The NAACP called for an investigation into the affair. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination held hearings into the matter. Neither Yawkey nor Harris attended. They put the team’s defense into the hands of a young team lawyer by the name of Dick O’Connell. He argued the Red Sox were employing eight black personnel at the time, one at Fenway Park and eight in the minor leagues. The outcome of the hearing resulted in the Red Sox being absolved of any charges of discrimination for the promise of making every effort to end the apparent segregation that existed on the team.

By that July, Green was hitting .325 at Minneapolis and had just been named an American Association All-Star for the second straight year. On July 21, 1959, Green made his debut for Boston to become the first African American to play for the Red Sox. One week later, Robert Earl Wilson, who had a record of 10–2 at the time, made his first appearance.
   19. phredbird Posted: July 19, 2019 at 12:41 PM (#5863196)

the cards were definitely slow on the uptake. they famously threatened to strike over having to play against jackie robinson and IIRC the commissioner got involved or something.

but ... augie busch responded to complaints by the black players like gibson and flood about subpar segregated accommodations at spring training in st. pete by threatening to move someplace else, and the team successfully integrated a local motel.

busch was ahead of the curve on encouraging black fans to attend games. he knew that african americans consumed his products just as much as anybody else, so why not get them to the park?
   20. base ball chick Posted: July 19, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5863203)
ng Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 18, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5863004)

Funny--he doesn't LOOK Jewish

- yeh, i can see how "pumpsie" could be misatken for some jewish word. and his buddy gene conley didn't look real too jewish neither
   21. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 19, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5863218)
Polo's account of the incident, in case anyone is interested.
   22. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: July 20, 2019 at 06:54 PM (#5863513)
Polo's account of the incident, in case anyone is interested.


"My name is Tito Polo and I feel extremely affected by what happened."

Me too, Tito. Me too.
   23. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: July 20, 2019 at 07:00 PM (#5863517)
Your name is also Tito Polo? That's pretty cool.
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: July 20, 2019 at 11:07 PM (#5863558)
Post 18 is so horrible. I mean, some of the people involved from all angles are still alive, it's that recent.

humans really, really suck.
   25. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: July 20, 2019 at 11:51 PM (#5863559)
Artemis Kadkhodian
Aldrem Corridor


'cmon, don't try to pass those off as names of baseball players. We've all seen Game of Thrones.

Sicnarf Loopstock


Or read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Yeffersson Yannuzzi


Or dropped something on our keyboard.


Also, how the hell did you find these guys? Does PI have a "weird names" filter or something? These guys aren't like Brusdar Graterol or something, they're some seriously obscure minor leaguers.

   26. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 21, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5863591)
Today is the 60th anniversary of Pumpsie Green intergrating the Red Sox.
   27. Jay Z Posted: July 21, 2019 at 02:47 PM (#5863605)
Pumpsie got screwed in all this. On any other team he's just another marginal utility infielder trying to stick in the big leagues, but for Yawkey's Red Sox he had all sorts of additional pressures. In the end he became something of an icon of failure, which was completely unfair to him.


The Red Sox had a few of those. I thought Don Buddin was #1 during Pumpsie's tenure. They had enough failures that the failures needed to be integrated as well.
   28. The Honorable Ardo Posted: July 21, 2019 at 10:59 PM (#5863677)
It's amazing how not-long ago this all was. One of my (white) graduate school professors had to take a literacy test before he could register to vote, in Louisiana during fall 1964. It went something like this:

*Walks into county clerk's office, encounters fat man in suspenders*

"Who's your father?"

He stated his dad's name.

"Ah don't know him. Tell me, son, who're your uncles?"

So he starts naming his uncles, one by one. Fat man interrupts him midstream, "Ah know him. Here, read this." He was handed a piece of paper with one line of text.

He read it aloud, and was told, "Yer all set." The clerk stamped his forms with a big ink-pad stamper, and he got his registration card.

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