Pumpsie Green, who broke the color line for the Red Sox, dead at age 85

Elijah "Pumpsie" Green, the switch-hitting infielder who broke the Boston Red Sox color line in 1959, has died at the age of 85. A spokesperson confirmed Green's passing to the AP on Wednesday

The Red Sox were the last MLB team to integrate, 12 years after Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In February of 1959, they signed Green -- an Oklahoma native who was raised in Oakland -- to a contract while the team was in Arizona for spring training. Green broke camp with the team after batting .327 in spring play, but he was optioned to the minors following an exhibition game that took place just prior to the start of the regular season. After Green was named a minor-league All-Star, and after the Red Sox underwent a managerial change was Green promoted. On July 21, Green entered a road game against the White Sox as a pinch-runner and became the Red Sox's first African-American player to appear in the majors.

Green wound up playing parts of five seasons in the majors, and over that span he batted .246/.357/.364 with 13 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and more walks than strikeouts in 344 games. He spent time spent at second, third, and shortstop. 

Green battled injuries and of course dealt with discrimination at almost every juncture of his baseball journey. He was done as a major-league player before the age of 30, not long after the Red Sox traded him to the Mets, and he was done entirely after some halting attempts to rebuild his career in the minors. 

The numbers don't jump out, but the numbers alone are never the measure of a baseball player. The pioneering Pumpsie Green is an embodiment of that lesson.  

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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