July 17, 1954: Major League History, Baseball Team With Majority Black Players Take the Field

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July 17, 1954: On this day, for the 1st time in Major League history, a baseball team took the field with a majority of its players being black. It was the Brooklyn Dodgers, their opponent was the Milwaukee Braves, in County Stadium, Milwaukee.

Dodgers would face a Braves team that had a rookie Right Fielder, Mr. Henry Aaron.

Dodgers beat the Braves 2-1 on this day.

Pitcher: Don Newcombe
Catcher: Roy Campanella
2nd Base: Jim “Junior” Gilliam
3rd Base: Jackie Robinson
Left Field: Sandy Amoros (Cuban)

Jackie Robinson was Rookie of the Year in 1947, MVP in 1949 , and is in the Hall of Fame. His record is well known.

Don Newcombe was Rookie of the Year in 1949, the year in which he became the 1st Black pitcher to start a World Series game. In 1955 he became the first black to win 20 games. The following year he won both the Cy Young Award and was MVP, the 1st National Leaguer to do both. He had a lifetime batting average of .271, with 15 homers during his career, and was often used as a pinch hitter.

Roy Campanella received 3 MVP awards, in 1951, 1953,and 1955. In each of those years he batted over 300, hit over 30 homers and drove in over 100 runs, including 142 in 1953, when the season was still only 154 games. Over his career, Campy threw out 57% of those who attempted to steal, still a major league record. His career was cut short by a 1958 auto accident which left him in a wheelchair.

Junior Gilliam was Rookie of the Year in 1953. He was a long-time leadoff hitter (until Maurie Wills joined the team, scoring over 100 runs in four consecutive seasons, and once finishing fifth for MVP.

Sandy Amoros did not have as distinguished career as his black teammates, although anyone watching Don Larson’s 1956 World Series perfect game will remember the shot he hit that was long enough to leave the park, but just foul.

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1 Comment

  • Samuel Caldwell Jr. July 17, 2017 - 9:32 am Reply

    The title of the article is misleading. The starting line-up of the Dodgers team had a majority of Black players (5 of 9) but the team roster did not have a majority of black players as the title might lead you to believe.

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