This week as part of Black History Month, we introduce you to John Kennedy, the baseball player, not the former President.
Yesterday we introduced you to Pumpsie Green who was the last player to break the color barrier in the American League. The last player to break the color barrier in the National League was John Kennedy of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Kennedy played in the Negro Leagues for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League. Towards the end of the 1956 season with Kennedy having led the league for most of the year, he was notified by the Monarchs that his contract had been sold to the Phillies. A full ten years after Jackie Robinson debuted with the Dodgers, the Phillies had still yet to field an African American player. Kennedy would make his big league debut on April 22, 1957.
Ironically, the game was exactly 10 years to the day that manager Ben Chapman had taunted Jackie Robinson during a game in Brooklyn. Also ironically, Kennedy's debut would come against the very same Dodgers. He would enter the game in the top of the 8th as a pinch runner.
Kennedy's next game was two days later again entering the game as a pinch runner. Kennedy would get into a total of just five games, the last one on May 3, 1957. At the plate, he was 0-for-2, including one strikeout.