Pumpsie Green Breaks the Color Barrier With the Boston Red Sox (July 21, 1959)
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS:
Inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, May 2018
Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green grew up in Richmond, California, and always wanted to play baseball, specifically for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.
In Green’s last year of college, he tried out for the Oaks and was signed to a contract. He played three seasons with Oaks-affiliated teams until the Boston Red Sox purchased his contract during the 1955 season.
The Red Sox was the last Major League Baseball team to integrate. The delay in breaking MLB’s self-imposed color barrier was due to the racist views held by team owner Tom Yawkey, who opposed adding black players to the team’s roster even though there were black players in its farm system in the 1950s.
Green played with Red Sox affiliates for three seasons before he was invited to spring training in 1959. Despite a strong performance, he was not added to the roster on opening day and returned to the minors when spring training ended.
According to Green, who made his major-league debut on July 21, 1959, the biggest obstacles he faced as a black player on the road were “where will you stay, where are you going to eat, what are you going to do, and where are you going to go?” For him, those routine activities overshadowed the positive day-to-day experiences most players enjoy.
He played four seasons in Boston and one with the New York Mets. In five seasons, he was a .246 hitter and tallied 13 home runs and 74 RBI in 344 games.