Born: February 8, 1924 in Plainfield, N.J.
Died: May 17, 2002 in Scottsdale, Az.
Debut: 1952 | Pos: P
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 185 | B: R | T: R
>> Visit the Joe Black biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
Joe Black, former Negro League pitcher and the first black pitcher to win a World Series game, died May 17, 2002 in Scottsdale, Ariz. of prostate cancer at the age of 78.
"He loved the game and he loved to talk the game," said Montreal manager Frank Robinson in a wire report. Robinson was friends with Black and visited him when the Expos were in Phoenix.
He played for Baltimore of the Negro Leagues from 1943 to 1950, posting a 46-37 record in known statistics. He played for Montreal and St. Paul in 1951 before being promoted to the Major Leagues in 1952 at the age of 28.
His efforts that year earned him Rookie of the Year honors. Black pitched out of the bullpen, compiling a 15-4 record, 15 saves and a 2.15 ERA in 142 innings pitched.
The Dodgers were facing a pitching dilemma and manager Chuck Dressen brought Black of the bullpen and start him three times in seven days in the 1952 World Series against the New York Yankees. He pitched a 6-hitter to win the first game and became the first black pitcher to win a World Series game.
"His legacy is the thought that unheralded players can rise to the heights, that someone who at the time was considered an ordinary athlete could wind up pitching Game 1 of the World Series," said Dodgers' play-by-play announcer Vin Scull.
The new season, Dressen wanted Black to add some additional pitchers to his fastball and curve. The efforts left Black without control of the two pitches that had been such a part of his success.
He spent 4 seasons with Brooklyn before moving to Cincinnati and Washington. In 1955, the Dodger sent him to AAA after his ERA ballooned over 11. His career in the majors was over in 1957 and he pitched in some other leagues for a few seasons.
While he was with the Dodgers, Black roomed with Jackie Robinson and helped to fight for a pension plan for Negro League players.
Following baseball, he was an executive with Greyhound in Phoenix, Arizona. He was a board director of the Baseball Assistance Team and worked for the Diamondbacks in community relations.
He graduated from Morgan State in 1950 and received an honorary doctorate from Shaw University. He was also a writer.