The first African-American pitching winner in the World Series, Joe Black
*Joe Black was born on this date in 1924. He was an African-American baseball player in the Negro Leagues and author.
A native of Plainfield, N.J., Black graduated from Morgan State in 1950 and later received an honorary doctorate from Shaw University. Black was 28 when he reached the majors after helping the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues win two championships in seven years. He roomed with Robinson while with Brooklyn, pushed for a pension plan for Negro League players and was instrumental in the inclusion of players who played before 1947.
He spent a season in the minors before the Dodgers promoted him to the major leagues in 1952, five years after teammate Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. He was dominant out of the bullpen, chosen Rookie of the Year after winning 15 games and saving 15 others for the National League champions. He had a 2.15 ERA but with 142 innings pitched, fell eight innings short of winning the title. Strapped for pitching, the Dodgers brought Black out of the bullpen and started him three times in seven days in the 1952 World Series against the New York Yankees.
He won the opener with a six-hitter over Allie Reynolds, 4-2, and then lost the fourth game, 2-0, and the seventh, 4-2. The next spring after the World Series, the team urged Black to add some pitches to his strong fastball and tight curve. He lost control of his two basic pitches in the process and didn't regain his dominance until 1955, when he won 10 straight games at the start, a record at the time. After three more seasons with Brooklyn, Black drifted to Cincinnati and Washington and was out of baseball by 1958. In six seasons, he compiled a 30-12 record, half of his wins coming in his rookie season.
After his career ended, Black became an executive with Greyhound in Phoenix. In addition to lobbying for Black players, he remained in baseball through his affiliation with the commissioner's office, where he consulted with players about career choices. He wrote a syndicated column, "By The Way," for Ebony magazine and an autobiography, Ain't Nobody Better Than You. He was a board director of the Baseball Assistance Team and worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks in community relations after they joined the NL in 1998.
Joe Black, the Brooklyn Dodgers' right-hander who became the first Black pitcher to win a World Series game, died in May 2002 at the Life Care Center of Scottsdale of prostate cancer. He was 78.
The Negro Baseball Leagues A Photographic History
By Phil Dixon with Patrick J. Hannigan
Copyright 1992, Jed Clauss and Joanna Paulsen
Ameron House Publishing
Today in American History