Pumpsie Green

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

He’s been termed a “reluctant pioneer.” All Pumpsie Green wanted to do was play professional baseball. He didn’t even aspire to the major leagues at first, and would have been content playing for his hometown Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League. That said, Pumpsie Green took pride in the fact that he helped accomplish the integration of the Boston Red Sox, the last team in the majors to field an African American ballplayer.1

Green did play 13 years of professional baseball, including four seasons in the American League (with the Red Sox) and one in the National League (with the New York Mets). A family man, he lived the rest of his life quietly in El Cerrito, California, not far from where he grew up in Richmond. “We were just an average family living in an apartment,” he said.2

He was born on October 27, 1933, as Elijah Jerry Green Jr. All the standard reference books listed his place of birth as Oakland, but he himself said, “I wasn’t born in Oakland. I was born in Boley, Oklahoma. We was all born in Oklahoma.”3

The elder Elijah Green was reportedly a pretty good athlete, but had a family to care for during the Depression and work took precedence. “He was a farmer,” Green said in a 2009 interview, “We came out here to California when I was eight or nine years old. He worked at the Oakland Army Base.” After the war, Mr. Green worked for the city of Richmond, in the public works department. “He was a garbageman,” Pumpsie explained. Elijah Green’s wife, Gladys, worked mostly as a homemaker before World War II, and during the war as a welder on the docks in Oakland. As the children grew older, she became a nurse in a convalescent home.

The Greens raised five boys, and in 2009, Gladys was still going strong, in very good health at the age of 95. Pumpsie was the oldest, but Cornell Green was the biggest athletic name in the family, as cornerback-safety for the NFL Dallas Cowboys from 1962 to 1974 and a regular Pro Bowler. Credell Green was a running back, an 18th-round Green Bay Packers draft pick in 1957, but never advanced to the big time. Two other brothers, Travis and Eddie Joe, completed the family.

Pumpsie played baseball from grade school on up and became a switch-hitter at an early age. He was 13 when Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues in 1947, but Brooklyn was a long way from California. The Pacific Coast League integrated in 1948, and, to top it off, the barnstorming Jackie Robinson All-Stars came to Oakland after the ’48 season was over. Pumpsie said, “I scraped up every nickel and dime together I could find. And I was there. I had to see that game…I still remember how exciting it was.” Green was a big Oaks fan, getting to the Emeryville ballpark as often as he could, and listening on the radio when he couldn’t: “I followed a whole bunch of people on that team. It was almost a daily ritual. ….When I got old enough to wish, I wished I could play for the Oakland Oaks.”4 Pumpsie began to model his play after Artie Wilson, the left-handed-hitting shortstop who in 1949 became the first Black player on the Oaks, and led the league both in hitting and stolen bases.

Pumpsie caught and played first base at El Cerrito High under coach Gene Corr.

He was offered a college scholarship but Corr had begun coaching at Contra Costa Junior College and asked Pumpsie to come play shortstop. Pumpsie and his future wife, Marie Presley, met at college, introduced by a friend of Marie’s. She didn’t know he was a ballplayer, didn’t know a thing about him, but a lifelong marriage ensued.

By college, Pumpsie’s favorite player was Lorenzo “Piper” Davis, an outfielder/infielder for the Oaks (1951-55). Davis had himself been the first Black prospect signed by the Boston Red Sox, back in 1950, but been let go without reaching the major leagues, just before the Sox would have had to pay the second part of his bonus.

Pumpsie Green was signed by the Oaks upon graduation in 1953, at the age of 19, but never played for Oakland. There was no bonus, just a salary on the order of $300 or $400 a month. His first assignment was to travel to Washington state, to play for Oakland’s Single-A affiliate, the Wenatchee Chiefs (Western International League). “It was a small town, the apple capital of the world,” he told Herb Crehan with a chuckle. Green got into 88 games and hit .244, playing third base, where he committed an unfortunate 13 errors for a disappointing fielding percentage of .921. Switched to shortstop for 1954, Green batted .297 in a full 135-game season, with a .407 slugging average.

Green played in 1955 for Stockton (Class C, California League), down the ladder for a player who seemed to be on the way up. Green batted .319, with 12 homers, and the Ports made it to the playoffs, losing to Fresno. By this time, he was property of the Boston Red Sox, receiving word in midyear that Boston had purchased his contract and that he was to join the Montgomery Rebels (South Atlantic League). Green is officially listed as signed by scout Charlie Wallgren and farm director Johnny Murphy.

There wouldn’t be too many Black men in 1955 who’d want to go to Alabama and join a team named the Rebels. Pumpsie understood that, perhaps as much as anything, the Red Sox wanted their pitcher there, Earl Wilson, to have a roommate with the same color skin. Pumpsie preferred to stay put. The Ports were in first place, and Pumpsie managed to finish the season with Stockton rather than head to Montgomery. He was the shortstop on that year’s All-Star team and was named the California League’s Most Valuable Player, after which, Green later told Danny Peary, the Red Sox gave him a signing bonus of $3,000 to $4,000 and maintained the $300 to $400-a-month salary, fairly standard for the day.

In 1956 Pumpsie went to Boston’s minor-league camp in Deland, Florida, for spring training, and was placed with the Red Sox Single-A affiliate Albany (New York) Senators for the season, playing in the Eastern League under Warren “Sheriff” Robinson.

He hit .274 with Albany and Red Sox general manager Joe Cronin later said that Sox farm director Johnny Murphy “was very high on Pumpsie and urged his advance in the Boston farm system.”5

In the spring of 1957, Green and young Black pitcher Earl Wilson both trained with the San Francisco Seals, and in a series of three exhibition games in San Francisco between the Red Sox and the Seals, the Boston honchos had a chance to watch them play. Pumpsie was 0-for-7 with an error, hitting into two double plays. Cronin was not impressed with him as a major-league prospect. He spent most of the season playing under “The Sheriff,” now managing the Double-A Oklahoma City Indians (Texas League).

Playing in the Texas League was not without its problems. Texas and Oklahoma weren’t as bad, but one of the league teams was the Shreveport (Louisiana) Sports. “When the team went to Shreveport,” Pumpsie said, “I didn’t go, because they didn’t allow blacks to play in Louisiana. So I had a three- or four-day vacation.”6 Green amassed 519 at-bats in 1957, hitting for a .258 average. Starting on September 9, he was promoted to San Francisco, but appeared in only nine games (and never faced his hometown Oaks). Green was 11-for-33 in PCL play.

His 1957 work was sufficient to help him move up to the new top team in Boston’s minor-league system, the Minneapolis Millers. As of June 1958, every other major-league team had integrated. Green emphasized that he really felt little pressure as he moved up through the Red Sox system. “I was confident because I didn’t skip two or three minor-league levels at a time, but moved up gradually. I always was comfortable because I kept seeing the same players on the way up.”7

Don Buddin’s shortstop play was being mocked in Boston, but most baseball people thought Green remained a year or two away. The Millers played a June 16 exhibition game and beat the Red Sox with Green leading off and going 3-for-5 with a double, a bases-clearing triple in the fifth inning, and—batting left-handed—a single to left field. The Red Sox hadn’t had an “every day” switch-hitter since Jack Rothrock in the early 1930s.

Green hit .253 for the 1958 Millers – essentially the same average as the prior year but at the higher level of play. He showed versatility in playing several positions, infield and outfield, but he still had by no means convinced the Red Sox that he was ready for the majors. Pumpsie batted 5-for-12 to help win the American Association playoffs, with three runs batted in and four runs scored. On September 21, the day after the playoffs, Pumpsie Green was added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster – a move the Sox were compelled to take rather than risk losing him (he’d now been in their system for four years) in the coming player draft.

That fall, Pumpsie went to Panama to play winter ball with the Azucareros Sugar Kings and the “flashy young Negro shortstop” reeled off a 19-game hitting streak.8 The Azucareros won the league flag, with Pumpsie hitting .356. He led the team in the Caribbean Series, batting .306.

Pumpsie Green signed his 1959 contract in Scottsdale on February 25, suited up in a Red Sox uniform, and immediately took part in his first workout. Roger Birtwell’s Boston Globe story began, “The Boston Red Sox – in spring training, at least – today broke the color line.”9 After the workout, however, Green had to travel alone to the Frontier Motel, in Phoenix, some 17 miles out of town. He’d been turned away at the team hotel, the Safari. “Negroes are not permitted to live in Scottsdale,” Birtwell explained.10

The Red Sox began to dissemble. Publicity director Jack Malaney denied that the reason was racism, trying to convince disbelieving writers that the Safari had simply run out of rooms what with all the tourists in town.

Green lived an isolated existence, separated from his teammates. It was a pathetic situation. Boston Globe writer Milton Gross depicted the imposed isolation: “From night to morning, the first Negro player to be brought to spring training by the Boston Red Sox ceases to be a member of the team he hopes to make as a shortstop.” Segregation, wrote Gross, “comes in a man’s heart, residing there like a burrowing worm. It comes when a man wakes alone, eats alone, goes to the movies every night alone because there’s nothing more for him to do and then, in Pumpsie Green’s own words, ‘I get a sandwich and a glass of milk and a book and I read myself to sleep.’”11

The Giants, integrated since 1949, had their entire team housed in the Adams Hotel in Phoenix, and Pumpsie eventually took a room at the Giants’ hotel. Some of the Boston press came down pretty hard on the Red Sox. Green was becoming a symbol, cast in a role he would never have chosen for himself. As Howard Bryant later observed, “Pumpsie Green was not by nature a trailblazer.”12

Green blazed through early spring training, though his hitting tailed off after the first couple of weeks. He was considered the top rookie in camp, both in a poll of 11 Boston sportswriters and as selected by The Sporting News.13

Manager Mike Higgins’ attitude was unclear. For public consumption, he would tell sportswriter Bob Holbrook that Green was “a fine young ballplayer. He can help us.”14 Columnist Al Hirshberg wrote that Higgins showed no sign of prejudice during spring training in 1959. But this was the same Higgins who, a little earlier in the 1950s, had supposedly told the same Hirshberg, “There’ll be no niggers on this ballclub as long as I have anything to say about it.”15 There was a growing presumption that Pumpsie had made the team. As the spring season evolved, Green’s hitting tailed off and some shortcomings on defense cropped up.

Pumpsie broke camp with the team and played four exhibition dates against the Chicago Cubs in Texas as both teams headed for their respective openers. Green traveled separately. The Cubs had selected hotels that were integrated; the Red Sox had failed to do so – Green’s luggage was transferred to the Cubs plane and he had a Cubs roommate throughout the games – in effect, living with the opposition.

When he was around the Boston ballclub, though, Bill Cunningham wrote, “There is definitely no feeling against Green among the Red Sox. He is not ignored. The other players kid pleasantly with him and he kids back. Furthermore, you need to hear the Green philosophy to realize how foolish any issue making attempts are. …‘I’m no martyr, no flag carrier. I’m just trying to make the ballclub, that’s all. I’m not trying to prove anything but that.’”16

On the date of the final exhibition game, April 7 at Victoria, Texas, to the surprise of many, Pumpsie was optioned to Minneapolis. This action prompted a front-page story in the Boston Globe.

The Red Sox said he needed further seasoning, Higgins declaring that he wasn’t ready for the majors yet. Better that he have a chance to play than sit on the Boston bench. Green agreed with this view, then and later. But the decision to send him back to the minors seemed sudden and unexpected, almost a rude shock to fans back in Boston. Even with his late slump, he still held the fifth highest average on the team during the spring, batting .327 (18-for-55) with four home runs and 10 RBIs.

Harold Kaese kicked off his Globe column the day after the demotion by writing, “The Red Sox won no prizes this spring for the way they treated Pumpsie Green. From a strict baseball point of view they may have been doing the wise thing when they optioned their first Negro player to the Minneapolis farm club yesterday. From every other point of view, they undoubtedly have pulled a colossal boner.”17

The Boston chapter of the NAACP asked the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD) to look into the team’s overall hiring practices. (A spokesman for the ballclub who wisely wished to remain anonymous said that “no Negroes had applied for jobs as groundskeepers or maintenance workers in several years.”)18

Green downplayed the charges of discrimination. Speaking from Minneapolis, he candidly declared, “I want to be judged like any other ballplayer. I don’t want to be a crusader. I just want to play ball.” He added that he was sure the Red Sox would give him another shot.19

The Red Sox tried to defend themselves before the MCAD and in the press, but clumsily. It was a PR nightmare, prompted because of their segregated status. Business manager Dick O’Connell realistically admitted that the team would be accused of racism “until we have a Negro on our roster.”20

On June 12, the MCAD reported that it had unanimously voted to accept a pledge from general manager Bucky Harris that a Red Sox executive would visit Scottsdale to get guarantees of integrated housing for 1960, and that the club would “continue to scout Negro players as in the past,” making scouting records available to the MCAD, and would not discriminate in hiring at Fenway Park. It was a tepid report, but an action that resulted in misleading headlines such as “Red Sox Cleared of Bias Charges.”

After 98 games with the Millers, Green was batting .320 with seven homers and again elected a league All-Star. On July 4, apparently suffering in his personal struggle with alcoholism, Mike Higgins was replaced as Boston’s manager, with Billy Jurges taking over.

Green was finally recalled by the Red Sox and debuted in Chicago on July 21. He came in as a pinch-runner and stayed in the game at shortstop. Boston lost the game (Buddin’s homer was their only run). It was an uneventful debut but press coverage was extremely positive. Several Boston newspapers ran an AP photograph showing Red Sox icon Ted Williams giving Green some pointers on hitting. The Herald ran it on the front page, under a banner eight-column headline: “Green Joins Red Sox in Chicago.” The Globe ran four stories on Green, and one on the game. The paper radiated excitement. One story was headlined “Everyone Pleased Pumpsie Returning.”21

There was a touch of restrained euphoria to the coverage. American League president Joe Cronin, who had been the Red Sox GM just seven months earlier, commented, “I’m happy over Green’s elevation. I hope his play has improved sufficiently so that he can stay up here for a long time. His advance has been part of a long-range program in the Red Sox organization. Through it all, Pumpsie has conducted himself as a very fine young man.”22

After the game, Green was able to stay in the same Chicago hotel as the rest of the team. Sportswriter Bob Holbrook reported that in the lobby, “Players chatted and joked with him and by the time the team boarded a chartered airliner for Kansas City, he was thinking one team is just like another. He had a gin rummy game with Mike Fornieles and cracked a joke now and then.”23 The Red Sox showed some thoughtfulness and made arrangements to fly Marie Green to Boston to join her husband when the team returned home 10 days later. However awkwardly the Red Sox had handled the situation in the spring, here they went the extra mile.

Pumpsie’s first base hit came off Jim Perry in the second game of a July 28 doubleheader in Cleveland. He singled to left field (batting left-handed) and scored his first run, coming home on Pete Runnels’ home run. The day’s first game had seen the debut of Boston’s second Black ballplayer, pitcher Earl Wilson, who threw one inning in relief, retiring all three batters he faced on six pitches.

It could not have been easy being Pumpsie Green in 1959. Lee D. Jenkins, writing in the Chicago Defender after Green’s call-up, lamented the inevitable pressure: “It’s one thing to make a major-league team by sheer talent but to find yourself in a position where you are almost thrust down an unwilling throat makes for a most uncomfortable state. Green was a sensation with the Red Sox during their early spring training but as the season neared the pressure began to tell in his fielding and hitting.”24

On the last day of July, Green had a 3-for-4 day, with a triple, and scored three runs. Usually in the leadoff position, he’d also walked seven times in the seven games in which he’d appeared, and held an on-base percentage of .522 after his first week on the job to go with his .313 average. He’d also laid down two successful sacrifice bunts. Green didn’t commit an error until his 16th game.

After the 13-game road trip, it was time for the Red Sox to return home. “Pumpsie Here Tuesday” blared the full-page headline in the Boston Record. “Green does not consider himself a crusader,” the Globe’s Clif Keane allowed, “merely a ballplayer. He does not sound as if he expected any red carpets rolled out for him. He came here to play ball. And from what he and Wilson have shown since they joined the team they can play baseball.”25

Boston Celtics basketball star Bill Russell was there to greet Pumpsie when he arrived. They’d known each other since high school. Green also took a call in the Red Sox clubhouse from Jackie Robinson.

“Green Stars As Sox Divide” headlined the Herald sports section. Leading off in the bottom of the first, he was “given a nice hand when he first came to bat.”26 He later told Scott Ostler, “On my way up to home plate, the whole stands, blacks and whites, they stand up and gave me a standing ovation. A standing ovation, my first time up! And the umpire said, ‘Good luck, Pumpsie,’ something like that.”27 Pumpsie promptly tripled off the left-field wall, pouring on speed rather than pulling up at second base. He scored on Runnels’ grounder to first. In the seventh, he sacrificed to advance two runners; both scored on Runnels’ single. The Sox never lost the lead and won the first game, 4-1. The Sox lost the second game, 8-6, but Green reached base four times – a single, two walks, and on an error.

Minneapolis manager Gene Mauch predicted great things, saying that Green was “the number one ball player in the American Association, when the Red Sox called him up in July. … He could beat you so many ways … A cinch to make the grade, without any trouble – make it big, too.”28 Green appreciated Mauch, calling him (in 2009) “the best manager I ever played for.”

He said he felt welcomed by the Sox players. “There were a bunch of good guys on the Red Sox,” he said. “Ted Williams – he would talk to you and give you advice on any matter, even things not about baseball. The whole team was one unit when we walked out on the field. They were supportive of me whenever we played a game.”29 In the background, though, pitcher Frank Sullivan said, “There were a lot of teammates that had to give up calling Larry Doby rotten names. That also included some coaches.”30

Bill Monbouquette remembered an incident with coach Del Baker well. “He used the ‘n’ word, and Mike Higgins used the ‘n’ word, and I told them, ‘I don’t want to hear that,’ and then (Baker) started to give me a bunch of crap, and I said, ‘I’m going to tell you something. I’ll knock you right on your ass. I don’t care if you’re the coach or not.’ I said, ‘You don’t do things like that!’”31

Had there ever been a team meeting – perhaps in spring training – where the players were told the team was going to be integrated, and how to handle oneself, perhaps how to handle any newspaper inquiries? Not even close, said Ted Lepcio, “No, just cold turkey.”32

Actions can speak louder than words, and Ted Williams stood head and shoulders above the rest of the ballclub in star power. He set the tone from the beginning, not speaking out but clearly signaling his acceptance of Pumpsie, who became his throwing partner before games. “He asked me to warm up with him the first day I came here, and I’ve been warming up with him ever since.”33 He told Herb Crehan, “He didn’t say anything beyond the invitation to play catch, and it surprised me a little bit. But I understood and appreciated the gesture.”34

Green got into an even 50 games, accumulating 172 at-bats, and hit for a .233 average, which his 29 walks boosted to a .350 on-base percentage. His one home run came off Bob Turley in a rout of the Yankees on September 7. He’d already impressed Casey Stengel, going 4-for-5 in a game back on August 10. His average declined over the months, though, from .313 after he arrived in July, to .250 in August, and just .194 in September. Green ended the season going hitless in his final 24 at-bats.

After the season Pumpsie Green was named second baseman on the 1959 Major League Rookie All-Star team, chosen in balloting by 1.7 million Topps gum customers nationally. “Green’s play fell off during the last two or three weeks of the season because he was a tired player,” Jurges said. “I figured he played 260 games last year, counting the winter league, the American Association, and the big leagues. That’s too much ball for a kid.”35

In 1960, Green played 69 games at second base and 41 games at shortstop. After June 2, he never surpassed .250 at the plate, finishing at .242. He hit three homers and drove in 21 runs, in 260 at-bats spread over 133 games – 110 of which saw him in the field. Mike Higgins returned as manager that July, and made Green the starting shortstop for the last five weeks of the season. He seemed to be improving on defense. After the season, Pumpsie barnstormed with what was meant to be an “all-star troupe” made up of two teams of Negro American and National League ballplayers on a 33-game swing across the South.

Once again, in 1961, Green hit well in spring training, leading the club in hitting with a spectacular .478 average, earning the starting shortstop role at the start of the season. Pumpsie struggled at the plate, failing to get a hit his first 10 times up. Finally, he had a 2-for-5 game on April 22; his second hit was the game-winning homer in the top of the 11th, beating the White Sox, 7-6. His average hovered around .200 almost the entire season, until a 3-for-3 game on August 20 seemed to kick-start things. He wound up getting into 88 games, closing out the 1961 campaign at .260, with six home runs and 27 RBIs.

The biggest headlines Green earned in 1962 were when he and Gene Conley went AWOL, walking off the team bus as it was stuck in heavy New York traffic. It was July 26, and the team had just lost to the Yankees, 13-3, and the players were hot. They thought they might get a drink, and seem to have “done the town in style.” Conley apparently also tried to talk Pumpsie into going to Bethlehem with him “to be nearer to God.” Pumpsie preferred rejoining the team in Washington and turned up a little more than 24 hours later. Conley returned on the 29th.36 Pumpsie appeared in 56 games (fielding in only 23 of them), hitting .231 in 91 at-bats. He drove in 11 runs.

On December 11, 1962, the Red Sox traded Pumpsie and pitcher Tracy Stallard to the New York Mets for infielder Felix Mantilla. The Mets had just completed their first season, finishing in 10th place, 60½ games behind the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, Pumpsie didn’t make the Mets in the springtime. Green “reported overweight … a roly-poly 205 … and never could get going.”37 He hit .308 for Buffalo, with 17 homers, before being called up at the tail end of the season. He hit what proved to be his final home run, a two-run job off Ray Culp of the Philadelphia Phillies at the Polo Grounds on September 17. He hit. 278 in just 54 at-bats; the home run was his 13th major-league four-bagger.

In 1964, Pumpsie had “reported trim and ready.” Manager Stengel gave him a shot at third base, but Green had to contend with a lingering hip problem and, in the end, didn’t sufficiently impress. He was again shuffled off to Buffalo before the major-league season began, and this year he dipped to .281 with eight homers. After the season he played winter ball again, with Cinco Estrellas in Nicaragua.

Green hurt his left hip in 1965 spring training and saw only limited action at Buffalo as a pinch-hitter, batting .259 in the season before being released on July 16. Though he signed on with the Syracuse Chiefs, his combined average for the year was .247 and he added only two more RBIs with the Chiefs before leaving the game for good.

After baseball, Green earned a physical-education degree from San Francisco State University and then accepted a position with the Berkeley Unified School District, where he ran the baseball program, coached baseball for 25 years, served as dean of boys for a while, taught mathematics, and did some security work at the school. He finally retired in 1997. Players who came through Berkeley and made it to the majors include Glenn Burke, Ruppert Jones, and Claudell Washington.

After retirement, he took to working out at his local YMCA and doting on his granddaughter, Brittany. Pumpsie and Marie had two children: Jerry, a mechanical engineer for A.C. Transit, and Heidi Keisha, a schoolteacher and principal.

Looking back, Pumpsie was frank about Boston and his time in the major leagues. It was a bit of a mixed blessing of sorts, he told Jon Goode: “Sometimes it would get on my nerves. Sometimes I wonder if I would have even made it to the major leagues if it had not been for this Boston thing. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off it was not for the Boston thing. Things like that you can never answer.”38

Green told Danny Peary, “When I was playing, being the first black on the Red Sox wasn’t nearly as big a source of pride as it would be once I was out of the game. At the time I never put much stock in it, or thought about it. Later I understood my place in history. I don’t know if I would have been better in another organization with more black players. But as it turned out, I became increasingly proud to have been with the Red Sox as their first black.”39

While he acknowledged becoming more comfortable over time with the role he played, Pumpsie told Harvey Frommer several years after speaking to Peary, “There’s really nothing that interesting about me. I am just an everyday person happy with what I did,” adding, “I take a lot of pride in having played for the Red Sox.” He summed up, in his self-effacing fashion, “I would like to be remembered in Red Sox history as just another ballplayer.”40 That was what it was really all about, from the beginning.

His last visit to the Red Sox was in April 2012, when he attended the Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Two days later, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Red Sox game on Jackie Robinson Day.

Pumpsie Green died at San Leandro (California) Hospital on July 17, 2019, at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife of 62 years, Marie, their daughter Heidi, three brothers, and several grandchildren, nieces, nephews. He was preceded in death by his son, Jerry, who passed away in February 2018.



1 A much more extensive biography of Pumpsie Green, from which this is excerpted, is Bill Nowlin, “Pumpsie Green,” in Bill Nowlin, ed., Pumpsie and Progress – The Red Sox, Race, and Redemption (Burlington, Massachusetts; Rounder Books, 2010), 1-53.

2 Harvey Frommer and Frederick J. Frommer, Growing Up Baseball, an Oral History, quoted on www.redsoxnation.net

3 Pumpsie Green, telephone interview, March 27, 2009. Mayor Joan Matthews of Boley confirmed this on April 16, 2009, and said that one of Green’s uncles still lives in town.

4 Herb Crehan, Red Sox Heroes of Yesteryear (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2005), 121.

5 Hy Hurwitz, “Pumpsie Move Delights Cronin,” Boston Globe, July 23, 1959: 29. The retrospective 1956 Red Sox promotional film The Pride of New England, designed to drum up business for the 1957 season, included some early spring footage of the 1957 San Francisco Seals working out. Pumpsie played part of 1957 with the Seals, though he was known to narrator Curt Gowdy as Jerry Green. Gowdy said in the film, “A bright prospect is Jerry Green, the Eastern League All-Star shortstop for 1956.” There was no mention whatsoever of his race; he was treated in the film as a prospect who hoped to make the big-league team in another year or two.

6 William R. Herzog III, “The Coming of Elijah” in Hodge and Herzog, The Faith of Fifty Million: Baseball, Religion, and American Culture (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 197. “In other places, I had to live in the Negro area. … After a game I’d walk down the street with the other players and I couldn’t go into a restaurant with them for a cup of coffee and I couldn’t go into the drugstore with them for a soda.” [Arthur Siegel, “Green Walks Lonely Road to Stardom,” Boston Traveler, March 3, 1959] Green continued, “You know what gave me the strength to keep going? The squad. The players. I was just another guy in uniform and they called me Pumpsie or Jerry or they’d kid me and call me Lijah.”

7 Danny Peary, ed., They Played the Game (New York, Hyperion, 1994), 414.

8 Leo J. Eberenz, “Imports Flow at Brisk Rate from States,” The Sporting News, October 29, 1958: 23.

9 Roger Birtwell, “Green Joins Sox,” Boston Globe, February 26, 1959: 23.

10 Birtwell, “Green Joins Sox.”

11 Milton Gross, “Green Now Used to Loneliness,” Boston Globe, March 13, 1959: 14.

12 Howard Bryant, Shut Out (New York: Routledge, 2002), 9.

13 Bob Holbrook, “Pumpsie Swinging Sizzling Stick, Bids for BoSox SS Post,” The Sporting News, April 1, 1959: 23.

14 Bob Holbrook, “Pumpsie’s Chances Good of Staying Up with Sox,” Boston Globe, April 8, 1959: 25.

15 Al Hirshberg, What’s the Matter With the Red Sox? (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1973), 143.

16 Bill Cunningham, “Nixon Asks Red Sox for His Release,” Boston Herald, April 4, 1959: 9.

17 Harold Kaese, “Did Sox Give Pumpsie Green Shabby Deal?,” Boston Globe, April 8, 1959: 1.

18 UPI, “Red Sox Release of Green Causes Employment Query,” Chicago Daily Defender, April 13, 1959: 24.

19 Shirley Povich, “This Morning…,” Washington Post, April 16, 1959: D1.

20 UPI, “Red Sox Deny NAACP Charges,” Chicago Daily Defender, April 22, 1959: 23. Green even began to suffer some criticism from Boston’s Black community, finding himself in the middle of a conflict he never wanted: “Green actually has lost a lot of favor with colored fans. After the Red Sox stated Green himself would keep out of the case, the club then had Jerry making all sorts of ‘Uncle Tom’ statements from the South. Green is a young man but he has got to live with his people and share our hurts all his life. He should never oppose the NAACP or any organizations which seek to make his load lighter. A job with the Red Sox is not worth it, Jerry!” [Boston Chronicle, May 2, 1959].

21 Robert A. McLean, “Everyone Pleased Pumpsie Returning,” Boston Globe, July 22, 1929: 25.

22 Hurwitz, “Pumpsie Move Delights Cronin.”

23 Bob Holbrook, “Green Wasn’t Nervous, ‘I Was Just Plain Scared,’,” Boston Globe, July 24, 1959: 23.

24 Lee D. Jenkins, “Controversy Puts Heavy Burden on Pumpsie Green,” Chicago Daily Defender, August 1, 1959: 23.

25 Harold Kaese, “Pumpsie Makes Home Bow Tonight,” Boston Evening Globe, August 4, 1959: 35.

26 Henry A. McKenna, “Green Stars As Sox Divide,” Boston Herald, August 5, 1959: 27, 28.

27 Scott Ostler, “Green looks back on breaking barrier 50 years ago,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 21, 2009. https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Green-looks-back-on-breaking-barrier-50-years-ago-3224458.php. Accessed December 7, 2021.

28 Ed Rumill, “Pumpsie Due for Long Stay With Boston, Says Mauch” Christian Science Monitor, August 18, 1959: 10.

29 Jennifer Latchford and Rod Oreste, Red Sox Legends (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2007), 78.

30 E-mail correspondence with Frank Sullivan, December 6, 2008.

31 Interview with Bill Monbouquette, April 17, 2009.

32 Interview with Ted Lepcio, April 17, 2009.

33 Ed Linn, Hitter (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993), 337.

34 Crehan, 125.

35 Bob Addie, “Pilot’s Job ‘Dream Come True’ for Jurges,” The Sporting News, December 16, 1959: 8.

36 For a good summary of the incident, see Hy Hurwitz, “Bosox Bad Boys Pay Plenty for AWOL Spree,” The Sporting News, August 11, 1962: 14.

37 Barney Kremenko, “Hickman Flubs Far-Turn Test; Casey Stymied,” The Sporting News, March 14, 1964: 25.

38 Jon Goode, interview, www.boston.com, October 9, 2004.

39 Peary, 446.

40 Frommer and Frommer.

Full Name

Elijah Jerry Green


October 27, 1933 at Boley, OK (USA)


July 17, 2019 at San Leandro, CA (USA)

If you can help us improve this player’s biography, contact us.