Former Boston Red Sox infielder Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, who was the first African-American player to play for the Red Sox, died on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. He was 85.
Green played for the Red Sox from 1959-1962, and spent one season with the New York Mets in 1963. He made his MLB debut as a pinch-runner against the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1959, becoming the first black player to play for the Red Sox organization in the process. Boston was the last team in Major League Baseball to field a black player, 12 years after Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
He made his Fenway Park debut about two weeks later, helping the Red Sox to a 4-1 win against Kansas City with a leadoff triple to the left field fence, according to the Boston Globe.
“Pumpsie Green occupies a special place in our history,” Red Sox owner John Henry said in a statement. “He was, by his own admission, a reluctant pioneer, but we will always remember him for his grace and perseverance in becoming our first African American player. He paved the way for the many great Sox players of color who followed. For that, we all owe Pumpsie a debt of gratitude.”
Green batted .246 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs throughout his five year MLB career. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2018.
Red Sox hold a moment of silence for Pumpsie Green, the first black player in franchise history, who died at the age of 85. pic.twitter.com/4l7YJY7Mo1— Boston.com Red Sox News (@BDCSox) July 17, 2019
The Red Sox held a moment of silence for Green before their game on Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
“We salute the courage Pumpsie Green demonstrated 60 years ago when he became our first player of color,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. “Despite the challenges he faced, he showed great resilience and took pride in wearing our uniform. He honored us by his presence. We send our deepest condolences to Pumpsie’s family and friends.”
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