First black players for each major league baseball team

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When Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers at the start of the 1947 season it integrated Major League Baseball after several decades of exclusion for player’s of color. But even though Jackie’s act was historic, it also served as a beginning – a beginning of a new MLB landscape. Not every team had a black player in ’47, in fact only two of the other 15 clubs integrated that same year.

Here are the first black players for each of the 16 MLB teams of that era. Some teams had more than one black player appear for the first time in the same game.

Jackie Robinson
Brooklyn Dodgers
April 15, 1947

Larry Doby
Cleveland Indians
July 5, 1947

Hank Thompson
St. Louis Browns
July 17, 1947

Monte Irvin & Hank Thompson
New York Giants
July 8, 1949

Sam Jethroe
Boston Braves
April 18, 1950

Minnie Miñoso
Chicago White Sox
May 1, 1951

Bob Trice
Philadelphia A’s
September 13, 1953

Ernie Banks
Chicago Cubs
September 17, 1953

Curt Roberts
Pittsburgh Pirates
April 13, 1954

Tom Alston
St. Louis Cardinals
April 13, 1954

Nino Escalera & Chuck Harmon
Cincinnati Reds
April 17, 1954

Carlos Paula
Washington Senators
September 6, 1954

Elston Howard
New York Yankees
April 14, 1955

John Kennedy
Philadelphia Phillies
April 22, 1957

Ozzie Virgil
Detroit Tigers
June 6, 1958

Pumpsie Green
Boston Red Sox
July 21, 1959

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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Mark Iocca
Mark Iocca
5 years ago

MLB continuously pats itself on the back about how the “color barrier” was broken by Jackie Robinson in 1947…MLB tries to paint itself as some kind of champion of “Civil Rights”…that stance is so laughable considering it was MLB’s own racist rules that created the “color barrier” in the first place!!! MLB should be continuously reminded that it took over 50 years for MLB to do the right thing about doing away with the “color barrier” and it was also egregious that it took another 12 years after Jackie Robinson for every MLB team to at least have “one” black player!!!

4 years ago

If Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige Played for the Pittsburgh Pirates early on . They Would be very hard to beat .

1 year ago

I can’t find Bingo Demoss on your site.Bill James rated him the top 2nd basman in the negro leagues