AFTER JACKIE ANSWERS
ROBINSON REVERED FOR BREAKING COLOR BARRIER, BUT DON’T FORGET ABOUT THOSE WHO FOLLOWED
In “Nightshift,” the Commodores’ great tribute song to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, they sing: “Jackie Whoa, you set the world on fire You came and gifted us Your love lifted us higher and higher” Those lyrics were about the wonderful singer Wilson, but they very easily could have been about Jackie Robinson.
I think you would be hard-pressed to disagree with Buck O’Neil, who said about Robinson playing in the majors: “When you look back, what people didn’t realize, and still don’t, was that we got the ball rolling on integration in our whole society.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called Robinson “a pilgrim that walked in the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom. He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”
While we know that Robinson was famously the first, we all too often forget those who followed in his footsteps. This week marked the end of Black History Month, so this week’s quiz remembers other groundbreaking first Black players. This is my A.P. Black History quiz. Have fun and learn a lot.
1. Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. On July 5, 1947, the second Black player debuted. Who was he?
a. John Kennedy
b. Larry Doby
c. Minnie Miñoso
d. Monte Irvin
2. After Robinson debuted for the Dodgers, how many years did it take before all 16 major-league teams became integrated?
3. Which was the last team to have a Black ballplayer?
a. New York Yankees
b. Philadelphia Phillies
c. Detroit Tigers
d. Boston Red Sox
4. Who was the first Black player for two different teams?
a. Curt Roberts
b. Hank Thompson
c. Larry Doby
d. Ozzie Virgil Sr.
5. Who were the first Black ballplayers for the Chicago teams? Name the players and the team (no partial credit).
a. Ernie Banks
b. John Kennedy
c. Larry Doby
d. Minnie Miñoso
6. Which was the last NL team to have a Black ballplayer?
a. Pittsburgh Pirates
b. St. Louis Cardinals
c. Cincinnati Reds
d. Philadelphia Phillies
7. In 1966, Bill Russell, the great Boston Celtic, became the first professional Black head coach. In 1975, MLB finally had its first Black manager. Who was he?
a. Larry Doby
b. Frank Robinson
c. Elston Howard
d. Cito Gaston
8. Who was the first Black pitcher to win the Cy Young Award?
a. Don Newcombe
b. Ferguson Jenkins
c. Bob Gibson
d. Dan Bankhead
9. In 1949, Jackie Robinson became the first Black player to win the National League MVP award. Who was the first Black player to win the American League MVP?
a. Minnie Miñoso
b. Larry Doby
c. Elston Howard
d. Frank Robinson
For the first time since Jackie Robinson’s early days as a big-leaguer (1950), no U.S.-born Black players played in the 2022 World Series. Baseball needs to do a better job on the field, in the front office and in ownership roles to promote diversity. Be safe and have a good week.
1. Too often forgotten and underappreciated, Larry Doby debuted just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson.
2. It wasn’t until July 21, 1959, that all 16 bigleague teams had at least one Black player.
3. On July 21, 1959, Pumpsie Green played for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate.
4. Hank Thompson broke the color barrier for the St. Louis Browns on July 17, 1947. Then he and Monte Irvin became the first Black ballplayers for the New York Giants on July 8, 1949. Thompson’s last major-league game was Sept. 30, 1956, also the date of Robinson’s last regular-season game.
5. On May 1, 1951, Minnie Miñoso debuted for the White Sox. On Sept. 17, 1953, Ernie Banks joined the Cubs.
6. On April 22, 1957, John Kennedy entered a game against the Dodgers as a pinch runner to become the first Black to play for the Phillies. He appeared in a total of five games for them, going 0-for-2, and never again played in the majors. Pitcher Hank Mason became the second Black player and first Black pitcher for the Phils. He debuted Sept. 12, 1958. The first batter he faced was Willie Mays.
7. I consider Frank Robinson, who became baseball’s first Black manager when he took the reins for Cleveland in 1975, the most underrated baseball superstar. Larry Doby, who was the second Black player, was also the second Black manager. On June 30, 1978, White Sox owner Bill Veeck promoted Doby from hitting coach to manager to replace Bob Lemon.
8. Don Newcombe was the first player in MLB history to win all three major awards: Rookie of the Year (1949), Cy Young (1956) and MVP (1956). In fact, “Newk” was the first recipient of the Cy Young Award. FYI: On Aug. 26, 1947, Dan Bankhead became the first Black pitcher to play in a majorleague game (Brooklyn Dodgers) AND the first Black player to hit a home run in his first major-league at-bat.
9. On April 14, 1955, Elston Howard became the first Black player to wear Yankees pinstripes. In 1963, “Ellie” hit .287 with a career-high 28 home runs, drove in 85 runs and posted a .528 slugging percentage (third-best in the league) to become the first Black player in American League history to be MVP. That season, he also earned a Gold Glove, becoming the first Yankees catcher to receive the honor.