#Spotlight – This week as part of Black History Month, we introduce you to Dan Bankhead, the first African-American pitcher in the major leagues.
Bankhead was a star pitcher in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and Mexico (deep into his 40's).
Dan's brothers (4 of them) all played baseball, with Sam being the most prolific Negro Leagues star.
Following the now familiar pattern of Dodgers that served in the military, in 1943, Bankhead enlisted in the Marine Corps.
While playing in the Negro Leagues for the Birmingham Black Barons and Memphis Red Sox, he came to the attention of Dodgers scouts who alerted their boss, Branch Rickey of another possible inclusion in their plans for integration.
Completely bypassing the relative safety of the minor leagues, the 27 year old rookie would debut at Ebbets Field on August 26, where he would join Jackie Robinson in the lineup.
Bankhead who was an excellent hitter as well, hit a home run in his first major league at-bat on August 26, 1947. He finished the season having pitched in four games for the Dodgers with an ERA of 7.20.
The next few seasons would see him go to the minor leagues before eventually being released and then bouncing around from club to club, but nothing would ever detract from his place forever as the first African American pitcher in the Major Leagues.