Bloom: Joe Black’s storied life continues to inspire

From SABR member Barry M. Bloom at on February 6, 2015:

The story of Brooklyn Dodgers right-hander Joe Black is certainly complex. A former Negro Leaguer who was among the pioneer players who forever shattered Major League Baseball’s color barrier, he was the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game — Game 1 of the 1952 Fall Classic at Ebbets Field over the New York Yankees.

But there was so much more to Black than just that, as his daughter, Martha Jo Black, illustrates in a new biography, “Joe Black: More than a Dodger.”

Black earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Morgan State, taking classes during the offseason. After his playing days, that degree gave Black the opportunity to teach, and he ultimately became a high-ranking executive for Greyhound, the national bus company. Throughout his life, he was beloved in baseball, helping to raise money for indigent former players through the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT), and he was a special assistant for the nascent Arizona Diamondbacks until dying of prostate cancer in 2002.

But even more than all that, Martha Jo said Black was a top-flight dad, earning court-ordered custody of his only daughter and raising her while in his mid-50s. Martha Jo, who co-authored the book with journalist Chuck Schoffner, said her message was abundantly clear.

“That African-American men are good parents,” she said by phone this week from Chicago, where she runs the Fan Experience for the White Sox. “There were good African-American parents before 2015 and long before President Obama. My father was one of them, and we don’t hear much about that.”

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Originally published: February 6, 2015. Last Updated: February 6, 2015.