Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin passed away at his home in Houston on Monday, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced. Irvin was 96 years old.
“Monte Irvin’s affable demeanor, strong constitution and coolness under pressure helped guide baseball through desegregation and set a standard for American culture,” said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Irvin, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973, played eight seasons in the majors with the Giants and Cubs. He played with the Newark Eagles as part of the Negro League before joining the majors with the thenNew York Giants in 1949 at the age of 30. He was the fourth African-American to play in the big leagues, following Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby and Hank Thompson. Irvin played 18 seasons before retiring in 1957.
Hall of Famer Willie Mays, Irvin’s teammate with the Giants from 1951-56, released a statement on Irvin’s passing.
Over his eight-season major league career, the leftfielder/first baseman batted .293 with 99 home runs and over 400 RBIs. He helped lead the Giants to NL titles in 1951 and 1954, and was named a member of the NL All-Star team in 1952.
After he retired, Irvin worked as a scout for the Mets and as a member of Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's public-relations staff. On June 26, 2010, the San Francisco Giants officially retired his No. 20 uniform.
Irvin was the eighth-oldest living former big leaguer, and the second-oldest living Hall of Famer, behind only Bobby Doerr.