This week as part of Black History Month, we introduce you to Pumpsie Green. Known as the last of the barrier breakers when he broke the color barrier for the Boston Red Sox.
You can't read an account of Elijah "Pumpsie" Green without the phrase "reluctant pioneer". What many don't remember is he played 13 years of professional baseball for four teams.
Pumpsie went to college to play baseball, and patterned his game after his favorite player Piper Davis who had played for the Oakland Oaks, who were Pumpsie's hometown team. Ironically Davis was the first black player signed by the Red Sox, but he never reached the major leagues.
In 1955, Pumpsie played for Stockton in the California League, hitting .319 with 12 HR's. During the season, the Red Sox had purchased his contract and requested that he join the Montgomery Rebels of the South Atlantic League to join pitcher Earl Wilson as his teammate and roommate, an offer he would turn down.
The following season, Pumpsie would join the Red Sox and work his way up through the system. Green would make his MLB debut on July 21, 1959, a full 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
His first MLB hit came in his fourth game, when he singled off of Jim Perry. During that same game, pitcher Earl Wilson would make his debut, becoming the Red Sox' second black player. Pumpsie would finish the season hitting .233 in 50 games. The following year he would hit .242 in 133 games.
After the 1962 season, Green was traded to the New York Mets. He played his final major league game on September 26, 1963.