Skip to content

Happy Pumpsie Green Day

Jul 21, 2014, 9:16 AM EST

Pumpsie Green

We celebrate April 15 as Jackie Robinson day for obvious reasons.  I feel like we should celebrate July 21 as Pumpsie Green Day. For on that day in 1959, Green became the last guy to become the first African American to play for a team in the majors.

Some team had to be the last team to integrate, and that team happened to be the Boston Red Sox. The reason — unless you happen to think that when they scouted Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays they simply didn’t see baseball talent there — is pretty much the team’s undeniable legacy of racial intolerance. Which isn’t my term, actually. It’s the term Red Sox President Larry Lucchino used when he spoke to NPR on the matter back in 2002. Tom Yawkey was racist even by the standards of his era and it’s pretty hard to see the team’s late arrival to the integration party as anything but a function of that. Heck, some have argued that moves the team was making into the 1970s were still a function of that.

But Pumpsie Green Day — which isn’t a day and isn’t, as far as I know, noted all that much officially by the Red Sox — shouldn’t be about shaming dead old Tom Yawkey. It should be about Green, who eventually played five seasons in the majors, hitting .246 with 13 homers and 74 RBI. And his achievement of course. No, it was not as notable a historic achievement to be the last first as it was to be the first first. But on that team in that city at that time, it was not nothing either. And even if Robinson’s debut ended baseball’s segregation era, Green’s debut killed the hangover.

Latest Posts
  1. Mets don’t intend to talk extension with Daniel Murphy

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:02 PM EST

    Daniel Murphy AP AP

    While Daniel Murphy would like to discuss a contract extension with the Mets, it looks like a foregone conclusion that he will test free agency after the 2015 season.

  2. Nick Markakis apologizes for his comments regarding contract talks with the Orioles

    Feb 26, 2015, 9:49 PM EST

    Nick Markakis AP AP

    Braves outfielder Nick Markakis recently expressed frustration about how contract talks with the Orioles broke down over the winter.

  3. Shane Victorino is ready to go back to switch-hitting

    Feb 26, 2015, 8:40 PM EST

    Shane Victorino Getty Getty Images

    Victorino gave up hitting from the left side late in 2013, but he’s ready to give it another shot.

  4. Matt Harvey tentatively scheduled to make spring debut on March 6

    Feb 26, 2015, 7:15 PM EST

    Matt Harvey AP AP

    It will be Harvey’s first game action since he underwent Tommy John surgery 16 months ago.

  5. Blue Jays sign Johan Santana

    Feb 26, 2015, 6:06 PM EST

    Johan Santana Getty Getty Images

    Santana hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to injury.

  6. Barry Zito on his one-year retirement: “You want to be back in that game so bad”

    Feb 26, 2015, 5:17 PM EST

    Barry Zito Getty Images

    “I think hanging it up is going to be harder for guys than they realize, after being out of it for a year.”

  7. What’s driving the A-Rod media circus? The media, of course.

    Feb 26, 2015, 2:06 PM EST

    Alex Rodriguez AP AP

    Shame on A-Rod for making the reporters obsess about him.

  8. Ike Davis is still mad at the Mets for saying that he partied too hard

    Feb 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    ike davis getty Getty Images

    It’s been two and a half years, but it still leaves a “dirty taste” in his mouth.

  9. Wily Mo Pena is staying in Japan

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:47 AM EST

    wily mo pena headshot ap AP

    Pena once looked like a potential star for the Reds and Red Sox, but then washed out by age 26.

  10. Max Scherzer has added a cutter to his arsenal

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:32 AM EST

    Max Scherzer AP

    He also (a) wants to emulate Greg Maddux; and (b) asked Sandy Koufax about his curveball.

  11. The Phillies slowly enter the era of analytics

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    phillies logo

    Welcome to 2002, Ruben Amaro!

  12. Francisco Rodriguez re-signs with the Brewers

    Feb 26, 2015, 10:23 AM EST

    Francisco Rodriguez AP

    Two weeks ago Francisco Rodriguez was said to be holding out for a two-year contract.

  13. For the 100th time, the Yankees are not for sale

    Feb 26, 2015, 9:37 AM EST

    Yankees logo

    Even if Mike Lupica thinks they will be soon.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Hamilton (4236)
  2. Y. Moncada (4121)
  3. Z. Greinke (3693)
  4. M. Harvey (3608)
  5. F. Rodriguez (3561)
  1. E. Cabrera (2859)
  2. B. Beachy (2570)
  3. A. Gordon (2476)
  4. B. Moss (2425)
  5. A. Beltre (2363)