In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: Henry Kimbro.
Born 2/19/12 in Nashville, Tennessee, Henry Kimbro spent the prime years of his Negro League baseball career (1937 – 1950) with the Baltimore Elite Giants. Considered one of the best centerfielders in the Negro National League during the 1940s, Kimbro played in six Negro League East-West All-Star games.
Defensively, he had speed for great range in the outfield and he challenged baserunners with his strong throwing arm. A good lead-off batter who consistently hit .300, the left-handed swinger also had home run power. Kimbro gained the reputation of being a doggedly determined competitor who was not friendly with opponents and combative with teammates.
During his years with Baltimore, Kimbro played alongside Roy Campanella, Joe Black, and Junior Gilliam; all of which went on to play in the Major Leagues. However, Kimbro did not. Scouts deemed him beyond his prime, over 35 years old, once the door to play Major League baseball opened for African-American ball players.
Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.
To read about the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown
Born on February 8, 1924 in Plainfield, New Jersey; right-handed pitcher Joe Black possessed a power fastball and natural slider. Black pitched with the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro National League (1943 -1950) while finishing college (Morgan State) and then was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
As a 26 years old Major League rookie, Black pitched in relief for Dodgers in 1952. His former Elite Giant teammate Roy Campanella was the Dodgers’ catcher. Black won 15 games; he also saved 15 and received the 1952 National League Rookie of the Year award.
To Black’s surprise, Dodgers’ manager Chuck Dressen chose him to be the starting pitcher against the New York Yankees in Game One of the World Series. Black had only started two games during the regular season. He responded by becoming the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game beating the Yankees 4 – 2. However, Black lost Game Four 2 – 0 and Game Seven 4 – 2. He finished the Series with a 2.15 ERA, lowest of all Dodger starting pitchers.
After a six-year Major League career (1952 – 1957) in which he was 30 – 12, Black worked in business becoming a vice president at the Greyhound Corporation.
Learn more about the Negro League Baseball Era Last Train To Cooperstown