Friday, March 27, 2015

The Negro League baseball history fact for today - Milton Smith

Milton “Milt” Smith was a Negro League player that made it to the Major Leagues for a brief time during the 1950s.  Born on March 27, 1929 in Columbus, Georgia; Smith began his career with the Atlanta Black Crackers in 1948.  Although once a Negro American League franchise, the Black Crackers by that time were a minor league black team.  However, a player of Smith’s talent did not go unnoticed.  By 1950 the right handed hitter was playing third base for the Negro American League’s Philadelphia Stars.

But as the new decade began, the “invisible color line” had been erased and Negro League baseball was in decline.  In 1952, Smith was signed by the San Diego Padres of the Triple AAA Pacific Coast minor league.  His teammates while with the Padres included former Negro League players Luke Easter and Theolic Smith.    After hitting .338, Milton Smith was signed by the Cincinnati Reds near the end of the 1955 season.

He made his Major League debut on July 21 against the Philadelphia Phillies.    Chuck Harmon and Bob Thurman, both former Negro League players, also saw action for the Reds that game.  Smith hit .196 in 36 games the remainder of the season with three home runs and eight RBIs.

After the season, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals who then released him.  Smith played the rest of his career in the minor leagues retiring in 1961.

One of Milton Smith’s African American San Diego Padres teammates became a .300 hitter with the Chicago White Sox in the 1960s.  What was his name?

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