Friday, November 28, 2008
50 years before Jackie Robinson ...
Who was the first non-white baseball player in the major leagues?
No, it was not Jackie Robinson (1947), who actually was not even the first black in big-league baseball. (Robinson was the first after the so-called color line was drawn.)
The man holding the distinction was Louis "Chief" Sockalexis, who played for Cleveland in the 19th century. The troubled man, whose alcoholism ruined his sports career and his life, might have been the inspiration for the nickname of Cleveland's team, the Indians.
Baseball historian has written an interesting biography of Sockalexis for the Society for American Baseball Research.