After leaving military service following the end of World War II, Robert Burns “Bob” Thurman began his Negro League baseball career as a pitcher and outfielder with the Homestead Grays. Born on May 14, 1917 in Kellyville, Oklahoma; Thurman helped the Grays win the 1948 Negro League World Series. When the team disbanded before the 1949 season, he signed on with the Kansas City Monarchs.The New York Yankees signed Thurman as an outfielder after the 1949 season, but he spent the next five years in the minor leagues. After being traded twice, he made his Major League debut in 1955 with the Cincinnati Reds; he was 37 years old. Used mostly as a second string outfielder and pinch hitter, Thurman hit 35 home runs and drove in 106 runs in his five years with the Reds (1955 – 1959). His best season was 1957 when as a 40 year old he hit 18 home runs.
Thurman was such a great hitter in the 11 years he played Puerto Rican winter league baseball, he was inducted into the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame.