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Mon, 05.03.1920

Dan Bankhead, Baseball Player born

Dan Bankhead

*Dan Bankhead was born on this date in 1920.  He was a Black baseball player in Negro League Baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers.  

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Daniel Robert Bankhead attended public schools there.  During World War II, he served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves from April 1942 to June 1946 and achieved the rank of sergeant. While in the Marines, he played for the Montford Point baseball team and toured the states to raise morale.  His brothers Sam, Fred, Joe, and Garnett played baseball in the Negro leagues.  

After a strong career in Negro league baseball playing for the Birmingham Black Barons and Memphis Red Sox, Bankhead was signed at age 24 by Branch Rickey to play in the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system. Bankhead, an excellent hitter who was leading the Negro leagues with a .385 batting average when purchased by the Dodgers, hit a home run in his first major league at-bat on August 26, 1947, against the Pittsburgh Pirates; he also gave up ten hits in 3-1/3 innings pitching in relief that day.  He pitched in four games for the Dodgers in the season with an earned run average (ERA) of 7.20.  

Bankhead was shipped to the minor leagues for the 1948 and 1949 seasons. Pitching for clubs in Nashua, New Hampshire, and St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1948, he recorded 24 wins and six losses.  He returned to the Dodgers for the 1950 season, appearing in 41 games, with twelve starts, and finished with nine wins, four losses, and a 5.50 ERA. In 1951, his final year in the majors, he appeared in seven games, losing his only decision, with an ERA of 15.43.

After he played his final major league game, Bankhead spent time in the Mexican League, playing with various teams through 1966.  Dan Bankhead, the first Black pitcher in Major League Baseball, died of cancer at a Veterans Administration hospital in Houston, Texas, on May 2, 1976, the day before his 56th birthday.  

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