Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first black player in Boston Red Sox history, died on Wednesday in San Leandro, Calif. He was 85.
The Red Sox confirmed Green’s death on Wednesday and also held a moment of silence prior to their Wednesday night home game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Pumpsie Green occupies a special place in our history,” Red Sox principal owner John Henry said in a press release. “He was, by his own admission, a reluctant pioneer, but we will always remember him for his grace and perseverance in becoming our first African-American player. He paved the way for the many great Sox players of color who followed. For that, we all owe Pumpsie a debt of gratitude.”
Green entered as a pinch runner against the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1959, to become the first black player to play in a game for Boston. The Red Sox were the last major league team to integrate.
Green played parts of four seasons with the Red Sox (1959-62) and one season with the New York Mets (1963). He had a career batting average of .246 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs in 344 games.
“We salute the courage Pumpsie Green demonstrated 60 years ago when he became our first player of color,” Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. “Despite the challenges he faced, he showed great resilience and took pride in wearing our uniform. He honored us by his presence. We send our deepest condolences to Pumpsie’s family and friends.”
Green, an Oklahoma native who went to high school and college in Northern California, was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2018.
—Field Level Media