Black History encapsulates more than a month. This new daily series will take a look at some lesser known events and people in the world.
Jackie Robinson may be the best known black baseball player but he didn’t enter the league alone. Both Larry Doby and Hank Thompson started in the American League for the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns respectively in July of 1947 -- a mere four months after Jackie Robinson joined the National League Brooklyn Dodgers.
Doby’s career began in the Negro Leagues, where he played for the Newark Eagles. He served for the US Navy in World War II and then came back to the NNL to take the Eagles to the 1946 championship. Bill Veeck, owner of the Cleveland Indians, signed Doby making him the first black player in the American League. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Veteran’s Committee as Player.
Thompson came about days after Doby. After signing with the St. Louis Browns in 1947, Thompson was joined by Willard Brown making their debut game the first time two black players were on the same team. Then, in August, Thompson went up against Doby’s team making that the first time two black players on opposing teams played. He would later go back to the Negro League but, in 1949, the Giants called him up. Thompson would play for them until 1956.
A number of other black players would go to join the major league including Monte Irvin (1949), Sam Jethroe (1950), Minnie Minoso (1951), Bob Trice (1953), Ernie Banks (1953), Curt Roberts (1954), Tom Alston (1954), Nino Escalera (1954), Chuck Harmon (1954), Carlos Paula (1954), Elston Howard (1955), John Kennedy (1957), Ozzie Virgil Sr. (1958), and Pumpsie Green (1959).