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Ranking the 15 most famous black baseball players ever to play the game
Baseball is one of the most popular sports globally. The sport is played in many countries but is most prominent in the United States. Major League Baseball has generally ranked as the best baseball league worldwide. The MLB has hosted several talents, including famous black baseball players, who have their names engraved in the sport's history.
In Africa, baseball is not a popular sport like football, rugby, athletics, cricket, and basketball. However, many African-Americans have risen to the occasion and proved that anyone could excel in the sport. This article features the best black baseball players of all time and what they achieved.
Famous black baseball players - Top 15
Outfielder, infielder, baseman
First baseman, hitter
MLB has produced many Black baseball stars who have shown their hidden talent and achieved remarkable career success. Below are details about the best black baseball players of all time and their achievements.
15. Willie McCovey
McCovey was one of the most feared hitters during the last 1960s. He played for San Francisco and won multiple accolades, including three NL home run crowns, National League Rookie of the Year (1959), and Hall of Fame in 1986.
14. Joe Morgan
Many people rate Joe Morgan among the best all-around second basemen in history. He guided the Cincinnati Reds to two World Series titles (1975, 1976). Morgan also won two National League MVP Awards (1975, 1976) and five Gold Glove Awards.
13. Eddie Murray
Murray grew up in Oakland, where he developed an interest in baseball. He is one of five baseball stars in history to reach 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. Eddie shined for several MLB teams, including Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Mets. He won numerous titles and was also inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
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12. Don Newcombe
The former Brooklyn Dodgers star is a three-time 20-game winner and the first player to win the Cy Young Award in 1956. Newcombe also became the first African-American starting pitcher in a World Series game.
11. Satchel Paige
Paige was an outstanding player and a fan-favourite in the National League, winning over 1,000 games. The legendary pitcher lifted one World Series with the Cleveland Indians. He also played for the St. Louis Browns, and Kansas City Athletics.
10. Tim Raines
Tim Raines was one of the best hitters in the National League in the 1980s. He was also among the leading stars in batting. Raines is a seven-time All-Star with the Montreal Expos and bagged two World Series with the New York Yankees.
9. Frank Robinson
The 14-time All-Star is the only player in MLB history to win MVP in the National League and the American League. Robinson also became the first black manager in MLB history. He inspired many young rising stars to pursue their dreams in baseball.
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8. Jackie Robinson
Robinson broke the colour barrier in baseball after joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 to become the first black to play in the National League. He set numerous records and won many battles on the pitch. Robinson became the first African-American inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame (1962).
7. Lee Smith
Lee Smith was discovered and mentored by the legendary Buck O'Neil. He grew to become one of the best baseball icons of his generation. Smith led his league in saves four times and retired as baseball's all-time saves leader.
6. Ozzie Smith
Ozzie's defensive excellence and fighting spirit made him a legend in the sport. He was the backbone of the St. Louis Cardinals team that dominated opponents. In his 19-year career, Smith won 13 Gold Glove Awards and set MLB records for most assists and double plays by a shortstop.
5. Willie Stargell
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Stargell guided the Pittsburgh Pirates to two World Series titles over his 21-year career. He made history in 1979 by winning the MVP award in the NLCS, World Series, and National League. No player has achieved the fete.
4. Frank Thomas
Many baseball enthusiasts rank Frank Thomas among the best all-around hitters in history. Frank's brilliance helped him win consecutive American League MVP Awards (1993, 1994). He also picked up a batting title in 1997. Thomas was also one of the famous black baseball players in the 90s.
3. Dave Winfield
Winfield cemented his place among the best baseball stars in history thanks to his unique playing style. He took home six Silver Slugger Awards and seven Gold Gloves. Interestingly, Winfield is one of six athletes ever to be drafted in the MLB, NFL, and NBA.
2. Larry Doby
Doby joined Cleveland Indians in July 1947 to become the second African-American player in American League history after Jackie Robinson. His impressive performances earned him seven All-Star selections and a World Series title with Cleveland.
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1. Curt Flood
Flood left a great legacy as one of the best centre-fielders of his era. He won seven Gold Glove Awards and two World Series championships with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Who is considered the father of black baseball?
The legendary Rube Foster is considered the 'father of black baseball' following his contributions in the early 1900s. Foster was born in Texas in 1887. After the eighth grade, he dropped out of school to pursue a baseball career.
Foster played for numerous teams before becoming a manager. In 1910, he formed the Chicago American Giants, one of the best African-American teams in baseball history. He also spearheaded the formation of a league (N. National League) consisting of African-American teams and served as president and treasurer. Foster was selected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.
Who is the first black baseball player?
According to sources, Jackie Robinson is the first African American to play in the Major Leagues. He played his first match on 15 April 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the MLB, opening the door for more black players. Robinson accomplished a lot during his career, including:
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- Rookie of the Year (1947)
- Six times appearance in All-Star Games
- National League Most Valuable Player (1949)
- National Baseball Hall of Fame (1962)
Who were the first five black baseball players?
Besides Robinson (1947-1956), other legendary stars who broke the colour line in the sport include Larry Doby, Hank Thompson, Willard Brown, and Monte Irvin.
Larry Doby (1947-1959)
The legendary centre fielder became the first African-American to play for the Cleveland Indians on 5 July 1947. He was the second black player to feature in the MLB after Robinson. Larry played for the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. In 1978, he took over as manager of the White Sox, making him the second African-American manager in MLB history.
Hank Thompson (1947-1956)
Hank Thompson was a left-handed hitter and among the best in the sport. He played for Kansas City Monarchs before making his MLB debut with the St. Louis Browns on 17 July 1947. Hank played alongside fellow African American Willard Brown. On 20 July 1947, the pair became the first black players to appear in the same starting lineup.
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Willard Brown (1947)
Brown made a significant contribution to baseball despite playing for a short period. He made his MLB debut for the St. Louis Browns on 19 July 1947, where he played alongside Thompson. Brown only played 21 MLB games before leaving for Puerto Rico.
Monte Irvin (1949-1956)
The left fielder is one of the first famous black baseball players who broke racial barriers. He made his MLB debut on 8 July 1949 for the New York Giants. Irvin later joined the Chicago Cubs before retiring.
Other black icons who changed the face of baseball were Sam Jethroe (1950-1954), Willie Mays (1951-1973), Bob Trice (1953-1955), Ernie Banks (1953-1971), and Curt Roberts (1954-1956).
Who were some famous black baseball players in the hall of fame?
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum honours players who have excelled in playing, managing, and serving the sport. Many African-American baseball stars have also been inducted into the legendary list thanks to their contributions. The first five black stars to receive the honour were Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Hank Thompson, Willard Brown, and Monty Irvin.
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Famous black baseball players in 2022
On 17 July 2022, for the first time in Major League Baseball history, four blacks were selected during the top five draft picks. They are Druw Jones (Arizona), Kumar Rocker (Texas), Termarr Johnson (Pittsburgh), and Elijah Green (Washington). MLB also consists of many top black players in 2022, considered among the best in their generation. Below are some of the most talked about black stars in the MLB.
10. Mookie Betts
Betts is a right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the first player to win the silver slugger award, most valuable player award, and many more in the same season (2018).
9. Aron Judge
The talented outfielder plays for the New York Yankees. In 2016 he was selected for the Rookie of the year award and won the most valuable player award. Aron is one of the shining baseball stars in MLB.
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8. Tim Anderson
Anderson won the Silver Slugger award in 2020 and was an all-star in 2021. He plays for the Chicago sox as a shortstop. In 2019, he won the American League batting title after his outstanding performance.
7. Byron Buxton
As a centre fielder, Byron Buxton has accomplished much in his MLB career. In 2015, he was the second highest-rated prospect in baseball. He won the Golden Glove award in 2017 and the American League player of the month award in 2022. Buxton currently plays for Minnesota Twins.
6. Giancarlo Stanton
The New York Yankees star has bagged the MLB all-star award five times in his career. He also won the most valuable player award and the silver slugger award as an outfielder.
5. Ronald Acuna
Acuna is a Venezuelan baseball star playing for the Atlanta Braves. He made his debut in 2018 and won the Rookie of the year award. The talented outfielder also won the silver slugger award and was named an MLB all-star.
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4. Fernando Tatis Jr.
The Dominican international plays for San Diego Padres, and he is one of the top black stars in the MLB. Fernando won the silver slugger award in 2020 and was declared an all-star in 2021. However, injuries have kept him out for a long in 2022.
3. Andrew McCutchen
Andrew plays for the Philadelphia Phillies as an outfielder. He won the most valuable player award in 2013 for his descent performance. McCutchen also won the silver slugger award (2012) and the gold glove award (2015).
2. Marcus Semien
Semien joined Texas Rangers in 2022 after completing his spell at Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and Toronto Blue Jays. He won the silver slugger award and the gold glove award in 2021. He was declared an MLB all-star in 2021.
1. Marcus Stroman
The baseball pitcher previously played for New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays before joining plays for the Chicago clubs in 2021. of MLB. In 2017, he won the gold gloves award and was declared an MLB all-star in 2019.
Some of the most famous black baseball players also became managers and nurtured a new crop of black talents. Their achievements and contribution to the sport inspire many upcoming baseball players.
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