Black in the Day…Meet the Real Joe Black

October 1, 1952:

 

On this date Joe Black became the first black pitcher to win a World Series game. The Dodgers defeated the New York Yankees 4-2.

He was told that the color of his skin would keep him out of the big leagues, but Joe Black worked his way up through the Negro Leagues and the Cuban Winter League. He burst into the Majors in 1952 when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the face of segregation, verbal harassment, and even death threats, Joe Black rose to the top of his game; he earned National League Rookie of the Year in 1952. In six seasons, he compiled a 30–12 record, half of his wins coming in his rookie season.

After his career ended, Black was a scout for the Senators (1959–60). He taught health and physical education at Hubbard Junior High School in Plainfield, New Jersey, and later 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.

In 1991, Black appeared as a fictional character ‘Joe ‘Playday’ Sims’, in TV’s Cosby Show, in the 7th Season episode, “There’s Still No Joy in Mudville”, which originally aired April 4, 1991.

He was a board director of the Baseball Assistance Team and worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks in community relations after they joined the National League in 1998. Black was a regular in the Diamondbacks’ dugout during batting practice and in the press box. He also did a lot of charity work in the Phoenix area.

He wrote a syndicated column, “By The Way”, for Ebony magazine and an autobiography, Ain’t Nobody Better Than You.

Black died of prostate cancer at age 78. He was interred in the Hillside Cemetery of Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

 

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