To celebrate Black History Month, we at the Stockton Ports wanted to recognize the strong contributions African American players have had on our club and in our community.Numerous African American athletes have taken their talents to California's Central Valley as baseball's color barrier has long been broken and athletes from
To celebrate Black History Month, we at the Stockton Ports wanted to recognize the strong contributions African American players have had on our club and in our community.
Numerous African American athletes have taken their talents to California's Central Valley as baseball's color barrier has long been broken and athletes from across the world have enriched our great game.
For the Ports, it all began with an infielder and Oakland, Calif. native who dreamed of playing in the Pacific Coast League and accomplished far more than that.
Elijah Jerry 'Pumpsie' Green was born on Oct. 27, 1933 in Boley, Okla., the eldest of five children. His family soon headed west for the Bay Area and the young man obsessed with sports quickly became a fan of the Oakland Oaks baseball team of the PCL.
At a time when professional baseball had yet to reach the west coast and the U.S. remained a segregated nation.
Out of high school, Green attended Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif. where he starred at shortstop after turning down a baseball scholarship at Fresno State University.
Immediately after his last season in college, Green tried out for his beloved Oaks and was signed to a professional contract and assigned to the Wenatchee Chiefs in 1953.
He was living his dream.
After tearing up the Western International League in 1954, the Oaks promoted Green to their California League affiliate Stockton Ports. He was a stone's throw away from the PCL and maximized his talent.
Playing about an hour's drive away from his hometown, Green won the 1955 California League Most Valuable Player award hitting .319 in 144 games for the Ports.
He was the first African American to win MVP of the league that began his career as the accidental trailblazer, a title he neither sought nor truly embraced at the time.
In his own words, Green told The Record in 2009 that he 'had a great year and terrorized the Cal League.'
His success caught the attention of the Boston Red Sox, who purchased his contract halfway through the 1955 season.
Green finished the season out with the Ports and reported to Red Sox spring training in Deland, Fla. the following year. After toiling around the Red Sox minor league system, Green got his call to the big leagues during the 1959 season.
It was a monumental accomplishment and moment for the Red Sox organization. Green was the first African American player to play for the Red Sox, making them the last team to employ an African American player and fully integrating the sport.
In parts of five big league seasons, Green slashed .246/.357/.364 while playing all over the infield for the Red Sox and the New York Mets. Most impressively and something that's long lost in the game of baseball, Green finished his career with more walks than strikeouts.
Later in life, Green was prideful of his accomplishment in integrating the Red Sox despite early hesitance.
Green spent his post playing career giving back to the community that fostered him by working as a truant officer at Berkeley High School. He also served as the school's baseball coach and taught math in summer school.
Pumpsie Green passed away last July 17 at the age of 85 leaving a strong legacy of athletic excellence and community service. His impact on the Stockton Ports and professional baseball can't be overstated as we celebrate his life and career.