Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Joe Black: Stellar '51-52 season in Cuba, stellar rookie year in majors

Feb. 8: On this day in 1924, Joe Black was born in Plainfield, N.J.

Black pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators in a six-year major-league career, his best season coming in 1952 when he went 15-4 with a 2.15 ERA as a rookie with the Dodgers.

That season, Black became the first African-American pitcher ever to win a World Series game when he won Game 1 of the '52 Series against the Yankees (He went on to lose Game 4 and the decisive Game 7).

In the Cuban League, Black (right, with Cienfuegos teammate and catcher Rafael Noble) pitched two seasons for Cienfuegos from 1950-52.

His best of those two seasons came in 1951-52 when he led the Cuban League in wins (15-6), ERA (2.42) and strikeouts (78).

Despite Black's efforts, Cienfuegos finished second, two games behind pennant-winning Habana. But Cienfuegos manger Billy Herman earned manager of the year honors, according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961.

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