Whirty: Monte Irvin, a local baseball legend

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Local Houston Magazine on February 29, 2016:

Houstonian Chris Idol visited the late Monte Irvin about once a week at Irvin’s apartment at the Treemont Retirement Community, where Idol — who had met the National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee at a sports collectibles show, where Irvin signed cards for dozens of wide-eyed kids — would sit with Irvin as the baseball great listened to the students at a nearby learning academy play with a huge smile on his wizened face.

“He loved to hear the kids’ laughter,” Idol says of Irvin, who passed away January 11 at the age of 96. “He was so kindhearted.” With Irvin’s death, the Hall of Fame’s last living link to the great Negro Leagues — the tight-knit network of African-American baseball players, teams and organizations that existed during the national pastime’s shameful segregation era — was lost to the ages.

Irvin was born in Alabama but spent most of his professional career with the Newark Eagles and spent his earlier retirement years in Florida before moving to Houston to be closer to his daughter. Fortunately, Irvin was able to break into the major leagues in 1949, roughly two years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, mainly with the New York Giants, helping to lead that squad to a World Series title in ’54 with his potent bat. Irvin retired from the game in 1956, and 17 years later, he entered the hallowed halls of Cooperstown after being selected by the Hall’s Negro Leagues committee.

Read the full article here: http://localhoustonmagazine.com/monte-irvin/

Originally published: March 7, 2016. Last Updated: March 7, 2016.