The baseball color line excluded players of Black African descent from Major League Baseball and its affiliated Minor Leagues until 1947 (with a few notable exceptions in the 19th century before the line was firmly established).

Before 1885 at least three African-American men played in the major leagues: William Edward White, whose light skin color allowed him pass as white, played one game for the Providence Grays in 1879; Moses Fleetwood Walker, an openly Black man who played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association between May 1 and September 4, 1884; and his brother, Weldy Walker, who played five games with the Toledo club between July 15 and August 6, 1884. Baseball officials essentially drew the color line against Fleetwood Walker. African-Americans had been excluded from major league baseball since 1884 and from white professional minor league teams since 1889. Following the 1891 season, the Ansonia Cuban Giants, a team composed of African-American players, were expelled from the Connecticut State League, the last white minor league to have a Black team.

The Brooklyn Dodgers broke the 63-year color line when they started future Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson at first base on Opening Day, April 15, 1947. The Boston Red Sox were the last team to break the line, when they inserted Pumpsie Green as an eighth-inning pinch runner in a July 21, 1959 game at Chicago.

Before 1885

Player Team League First game Last game
William Edward White Providence Grays NL June 21, 1879 June 21, 1879
Moses Fleetwood Walker Toledo Blue Stockings AA May 1, 1884 September 4, 1884
Weldy Walker Toledo Blue Stockings AA July 15, 1884 August 6, 1884

After 1946

Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame


Below is a list of the first 20 Black players in Major League Baseball since Moses Fleetwood Walker's last major league appearance.

Player Team League Date
Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers NL April 15, 1947
Larry Doby Cleveland Indians AL July 5, 1947
Hank Thompson St. Louis Browns AL July 17, 1947
Willard Brown St. Louis Browns AL July 19, 1947
Dan Bankhead Brooklyn Dodgers NL August 26, 1947
Roy Campanella Brooklyn Dodgers NL April 20, 1948
Satchel Paige Cleveland Indians AL July 9, 1948
Minnie Miñoso Cleveland Indians AL April 19, 1949
Don Newcombe Brooklyn Dodgers NL May 20, 1949
Monte Irvin New York Giants NL July 8, 1949
Luke Easter Cleveland Indians AL August 11, 1949
Sam Jethroe Boston Braves NL April 18, 1950
Luis Márquez Boston Braves NL April 18, 1951
Ray Noble New York Giants NL
Artie Wilson New York Giants NL
Harry Simpson Cleveland Indians AL April 21, 1951
Willie Mays New York Giants NL May 25, 1951
Sam Hairston Chicago White Sox AL July 21, 1951
Bob Boyd Chicago White Sox AL September 8, 1951
Sam Jones Cleveland Indians AL September 22, 1951

By team

Team League Date[2] Player
Brooklyn Dodgers NL April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson
Cleveland Indians AL July 5, 1947 Larry Doby
St. Louis Browns AL July 17, 1947 Hank Thompson
New York Giants NL July 8, 1949 Hank Thompson
Monte Irvin
Boston Braves NL April 18, 1950 Sam Jethroe
Chicago White Sox AL May 1, 1951 Minnie Miñoso
Philadelphia Athletics AL September 13, 1953 Bob Trice
Chicago Cubs NL September 17, 1953 Ernie Banks
Pittsburgh Pirates NL April 13, 1954 Curt Roberts*
St. Louis Cardinals NL April 13, 1954 Tom Alston
Cincinnati Reds NL April 17, 1954 Nino Escalera
Chuck Harmon[3]
Washington Senators AL September 6, 1954 Carlos Paula
New York Yankees AL April 14, 1955 Elston Howard
Philadelphia Phillies NL April 22, 1957 John Kennedy
Detroit Tigers AL June 6, 1958 Ozzie Virgil Sr.[4]
Boston Red Sox AL July 21, 1959 Pumpsie Green

* Major League Baseball recognizes Curt Roberts as the Pirates' first Black player; however, Carlos Bernier of Puerto Rico, also a Black man, debuted on April 22, 1953.[5]
‡ Thompson and Irvin broke in with the Giants during the same game on July 8, 1949. Thompson was the starting third baseman, and Irvin pinch hit in the eighth.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Men Kleinknecht. "Integration of Baseball After World War II". Society for American Baseball Research.
  2. ^ O'Connell, Jack (2007-04-13). "Robinson's many peers follow his lead". Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  3. ^ "Harmon a trailblazer in long history of Reds | News". Archived from the original on 2010-05-20.
  4. ^ Tygiel, Jules (1983), Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 329, ISBN 0195033000
  5. ^ Guzzardi, Joe (April 14, 2013). "Carlos Bernier, more than a footnote". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2022-10-08.