On Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball

A Q&A with SABR member Rick Swaine posted at Cincinnati.com on April 14:

Question: What can you tell me about an early Reds’ black player that I might not know?

Answer: Well, one of their first black players – soon after Nino Escalera and Chuck Harmon (broke the Reds’ color line in 1954) – was Bob Thurman in 1955. The Reds figured he was somewhere between 31 and 34 when they signed him as a free agent in November, 1954, but he was 37. And that means he was only a month shy of his 38th birthday when he “debuted” for them in April, 1955. (Thurman’s date of birth was listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia and Baseball Register and on his baseball cards as May 14, 1923, but he was born on May 14 six years earlier) He looked young and swung young – he hit 16 homers and drove in 40 runs in only 206 plate appearances when he was really 40 years old – and he played until he was 42. He was the first major league player to hit a home run on his 40th birthday – although, at the time, nobody knew he was that old except him.


Read the full article here: http://news.cincinnati.com/article/AB/20110412/SPT04/104130343/Five-questions-author-Rick-Swaine

Originally published: April 14, 2011. Last Updated: April 14, 2011.