Marquard: Pumpsie Green, Red Sox’s first black player, dies at 85

From Bryan Marquard at the Boston Globe on July 17, 2019:

When Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first black player on the Boston Red Sox roster, walked to the plate in Fenway Park for the first time in 1959, among the cheering fans were African-Americans watching from a roped-off area.

“I got my helmet and started walking up to home plate, and I got a standing ovation,” he recalled in a 1997 Globe interview. “It made me nervous as heck. The one thing I didn’t want to do was strike out and walk all the way back to the dugout.”

He need not have worried. The pitcher for Kansas City that day was someone he had faced in the minors, and Mr. Green tripled off the left-center field wall. It was, he said, “the greatest feeling I ever had in baseball.”

Mr. Green, an infielder who made his first Major League appearance with Boston after a flurry of off-field actions that stretched from the team’s front office into state agencies, has died, the Red Sox said Wednesday night. He was 85.

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Originally published: July 17, 2019. Last Updated: July 17, 2019.