Thomas: Japan’s first black baseball player

From Dexter Thomas Jr. at on October 9, 2014:

Even if you don’t follow baseball, you might have heard of a dude named Jackie Robinson. You know, first black player in the MLB in 1947, brilliant talent, philanthropist, all that.

But what you might not know is that 11 years before the MLB color line was broken, there was a black pitcher playing for a Tokyo team.

In 1936, a group of seven clubs came together to form the forerunner to what is now the Nippon Pro Baseball Organization — the Japanese equivalent of the MLB. One of the teams, Dai Tokyo, ended the first spring/summer season with an embarrassing record of 0 wins, 1 tie, and 13 losses. So the owner asked an acquaintance to find some foreign talent.

That foreign talent arrived on a boat on October 5th, 1936. His name was Jimmy Bonner, he was 24, and he had a hell of a pedigree.

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Originally published: October 9, 2014. Last Updated: October 9, 2014.