Lukas: Decades before Jackie, black trainers wore MLB uniforms

From SABR member Paul Lukas at Uni Watch on April 15, 2014:

Today is Jackie Robinson Day, the day when we honor the first African American to play in the major leagues. But as you can see above, Robinson was not the first African American to wear a jersey and cap while in a big league team’s employ — not by a long shot.

Those two guys are Waller Irvin (left) and Emmett Parker, who were hired as trainers for the New York Giants in 1923. That photo was taken during spring training of ’23, and they appear to be wearing the Giants’ 1922 home jerseys (although Irvin’s was apparently modified to look more like a dress shirt, complete with a collar and sleeve cuffs).

When reader Bruce Menard showed me this photo last week, I initially thought these must have been Negro Leagues trainers. But no — they worked for the New York baseball Giants. Here’s a Palm Beach Post article about Parker being hired by the Giants, and you can see Parker and Irvin in this 1923 Giants team portrait.


That’s Irvin in the front row, far left. Parker is in the second row, far right. Both are wearing jerseys and caps.

Irvin and Parker weren’t the Giants’ first black trainers. Prior to hiring them, the team employed Ed Mackall.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 15, 2014. Last Updated: April 15, 2014.