Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Negro League baseball history fact for today

John Irvin Kennedy’s Negro League baseball career was wedged between his two times in white organized baseball.  After college (Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida), the slick fielding shortstop played two seasons in Canada on a team managed by former Negro League star Willie Wells.  Signed by the Major League’s New York Giants in 1953, Kennedy was released after one season in the team’s minor league system.  He played the next three seasons in Negro League baseball; 1954 – 1955 with the Birmingham Black Barons and with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1956. 

By 1957, the Philadelphia Phillies were the only National League team without an African-American player.  Kennedy was invited to the team’s spring training camp that year and made a strong effort to be their number one shortstop.  However, the Phillies discovered Kennedy was not 21 years old as he told them, but 30.  The team brought in a younger shortstop, however on April 20; Kennedy became the first African American player to appear in a Phillies uniform.  He appeared in four other games and then was sent back to the minor leagues with an injured shoulder; never to play in another Major League game.

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