July 21, 1959: Red Sox Became Final MLB Team to Integrate

Tracy Ringolsby

It took 12 years and 96 days from Jackie Robinson debuting with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, and becoming the first African-American player to appear in an MLB game, until Pumpsie Green made his debut on July 17, 1959, and the Boston Red Sox became the last of the 16 original Major League Franchises to break the color line.

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The same Jack Robinson the Red Sox worked out in 1945 and declined to sign, despite a strong workout for Robinson.

The Red Sox had purchased Green from the minor league Oakland Oaks in 1955, and he debuted in the Boston system with Albany in 1956. He was invited to the Red Sox spring training camp in 1959, made a strong impression, but was sent to Triple-A Minneapolis to open the season.

After hitting .328 in 98 games for Minneapolis, Green finally got his call to the big leagues, and debuted in a game against the White Sox at Comiskey Park when he got the call to pinch-run for Vic Wertz in the eighth inning on July 21, 1959.

A week later, when pitcher Don Wilson became the second African-American to appear for the Red Sox, Green, in his fourth big-league game, delivered his first big-league hit. 

Green would play for the Red Sox through the 1962 season, after which he was dealt in a package, which included Tracy Stoddard, who had given up Roger Maris' 61st home run, to the New York Mets for Felix Mantilla.

Green would play only 17 games for the Mets in 1963, spending the bulk of his playing time at Triple-A Buffalo. He spent the 1964 team with Buffalo, and then appeared in 33 games between Buffalo and Detroit's Triple-A Syracuse affiliate in 1965 before hanging up his spikes.

After he retired, Green spent more than 20 years working as a truant officer, baseball coach and and summer school math teacher at Berkeley (Ca.) High School. 

On July 17, 2019, four days shy of the 60th anniversary of his Red Sox debut, Green died at the age of 85. 

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