Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Early Integration of Major-League Baseball


This is an updated version of an article which I wrote several years ago.

When I originally wrote this article, Retrosheet had just released partial data for the 1947 season, which included full data for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians. This meant that I had Player won-lost records for the complete careers of the first two African-Americans to integrate (white) Major-League Baseball: Jackie Robinson - who debuted on April 15th - and Larry Doby - who debuted on July 5th. But, at that time, I was still missing some games from the early careers of some of the other earliest integrators of Major League Baseball.

With Retrosheet's most recent release, however, they have now released complete play-by-play data for all seasons back to 1947 (actually, back to 1946). Which means I have calculated complete Player won-lost records for every black baseball player in Major League Baseball history (since Fleet Walker).

The first table here presents the Player won-lost records for the first two African-American players to appear in 1947, both of whom are (deservedly) in the Hall of Fame.

Jackie Robinson Larry Doby
Season Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1947
2815118.516.10.3
1.7
23270.61.0-0.2-0.1
1948
2914721.615.63.1
4.6
2412016.414.00.61.9
1949
3015625.416.64.4
6.1
2514722.017.61.73.3
1950
3114319.915.62.3
3.7
2614221.614.63.04.5
1951
3215325.715.25.3
6.9
2713419.115.21.63.0
1952
3314923.014.84.3
5.8
2814021.715.12.94.4
1953
3413621.614.13.1
4.6
2914921.615.92.33.9
1954
3512414.612.20.8
1.9
3015326.915.34.96.6
1955
3610511.69.21.0
1.8
3113117.714.60.92.3
1956
3711714.110.71.6
2.6
3214018.816.70.51.9
1957
 
3311916.114.10.51.7
1958
 
34889.38.20.20.9
1959
 
35392.73.9-0.7-0.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,381195.9140.126.1
39.7
1,529214.4166.018.333.8


Two other African-Americans also debuted in 1947 for the St. Louis Browns: Willard Brown and Hank Thompson. With Retrosheet's latest data release, I now have complete Player won-lost records for the (white) major-league careers of both of these two African-American baseball pioneers.

Willard Brown Hank Thompson
Season Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1947
32211.92.5-0.3
-0.2
21272.12.6-0.20.0
1948
 
1949
 
23759.49.4-0.00.8
1950
 
2414819.014.91.62.9
1951
 
25877.77.8-0.20.4
1952
 
2612717.513.81.62.8
1953
 
2711413.912.20.41.5
1954
 
2813619.313.12.63.9
1955
 
2913515.414.70.01.3
1956
 
30827.06.9-0.00.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS211.92.5-0.3
-0.2
931111.495.55.714.1


Brown and Thompson each started both ends of a doubleheader on July 20th, which represented the first two games in major-league history in which more than one African-American player appeared. I actually deduced these two games for Retrosheet, based on newspaper accounts. As such, I had the opportunity to read the game accounts for these two games. Reading coverage of "Negro" baseball players, as written in 1947, can sometimes be pretty disconcerting to a reader with 2015 sensibilities. In this case, this was most especially true of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article written by Dent McSkimming. Some excerpts of McSkimming's game story for the Browns July 20th doubleheader sweep of the Boston Red Sox are quoted here to give a flavor of how (some of) the white baseball world felt about Negro players in 1947.
"Muddy Ruel's Browns, not knowing whether to break out in cheers over their recent success or to continue to pout and growl over the presence in their team of two Negro players, are on their way east today to open a tour that will last through Aug. 4.

Before Friday's game here, the gloom that pervaded the dressing room and bench of the Browns was thick enough to make one gasp for air. Willard Brown and Henry Thompson, two Negro players, had been thrust on the team by the club owner, Dick Muckerman, the day before and the reinforcement had failed to bring the anticipated victory. So, on Friday evening, it was very apparent the majority of players were determined they would just go through the motions. Morale was low. Manager Ruel spoke in hushed tones; he was worried; anything might happen.

... At game time Saturday [the day before this doubleheader] tempers were still taut. The two Negro boys were there, in uniform, but few teammates spoke to them and they had to pair off together to get their own pre-game warmup. To add to the confused picture, [regular center fielder] Paul Lehner failed to appear at the park in time to dress for the game. Again it seemed that trouble was brewing.

What happened? The demoralized team, with Willard Brown playing in place of Lehner, gave Boston another terrific battle and lost only because Southpaw Earl Johnson shut Ellis Kinder out without a run, 1-0.

That struggle against Johnson seemed to awaken some little spark of team spirit, but it was a dull glow, indeed.

... Perhaps the two Negro boys are not responsible for the sudden improvement. As a matter of fact, they have played well but not brilliantly. But something has happened to make Muddy Ruel's team look more potent than it appeared a week ago."
The Post Dispatch story also adds a few interesting "Brownie Notes":
"Mere coincidence, but when the Browns departed from the ball park for Union Station they used a fleet of Black and White taxi-cabs.

'Thompson and Brown will be treated on this trip the same as any other player on our squad,' said Charles DeWitt, traveling secretary of the St. Louis club. He had been asked if any special arrangement was being made as to train and hotel accommodations for the two Negro players.

Leaving St. Louis, Thompson and Brown were assigned upper berths in the same car with other members of the team.

DeWitt said he knows that Jackie Robinson, Negro player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, stops with his team in most cities. Philadelphia and St. Louis are exceptions to the rule, he said. At Chicago, where there are a number of good hotels catering exclusively to Negroes, Brown and Thompson will not stay at the somewhat sedate Del Prado."
To be fair, it seems that not everybody's reaction to African-American baseball players was as negative as that of the Browns players. For example, the Chicago Tribune coverage of Larry Doby's major-league debut (which took place in Chicago against the White Sox) shows a picture of Doby posing with Indians' manager Lou Boudreau, who seems to be smiling (Doby, on the other hand, looks extremely nervous in the picture, as one might have expected given the circumstances). The New York Times noted that Doby "was introduced to the Indian players, who greeted him cordially." The Times goes on to note that "[w]hen [Doby] trotted onto the field the crowd gave him a loud round of applause" and that he "warm[ed] up with Boudreau and Coach George Susce" [Doby initially warmed up as an infielder, having played mostly second base with the Newark Eagles]. When he made his major-league debut as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, the Times reports that he "got a rousing hand from a Comiskey park crowd of more than 18,000" and he "again was loudly applauded on the way back to the bench" (although, since this game was in Chicago, that could have been White Sox fans cheering the fact that an Indian hitter had just struck out with two runners on base).

The first African-American pitchers in the American and National leagues also debuted with the Dodgers and Indians.

Dan Bankhead Satchel Paige
Season Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1947
2760.70.50.1
0.2
1948
 
41214.82.51.21.6
1949
 
42314.74.30.30.8
1950
30417.68.2-0.2
0.7
1951
31110.21.0-0.4
-0.3
44233.94.1-0.00.4
1952
 
454610.19.80.21.4
1953
 
46576.08.2-1.1-0.3
1965
 
5810.10.00.00.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS588.59.7-0.4
0.6
17929.629.00.64.0


The first all-African-American batter-pitcher matchup in (white) major-league history occurred on July 8, 1949 between the aforementioned Hank Thompson (now with the New York Giants) and Don Newcombe of the Dodgers. Thompson led off the game by popping out to the third baseman. Here's how Thompson's and Newcombe's careers look in terms of Player won-lost records.

Hank Thompson Don Newcombe
Season Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1947
21272.12.6-0.2
0.0
1948
 
1949
23759.49.4-0.0
0.8
233915.412.61.93.0
1950
2414819.014.91.6
2.9
244017.515.81.53.0
1951
25877.77.8-0.2
0.4
254017.213.42.43.7
1952
2612717.513.81.6
2.8
1953
2711413.912.20.4
1.5
1954
2813619.313.12.6
3.9
283010.19.20.81.7
1955
2913515.414.70.0
1.3
295717.914.12.63.8
1956
30827.06.9-0.0
0.6
305219.213.73.54.9
1957
 
313311.713.7-0.30.7
1958
 
325010.412.7-0.60.3
1959
 
336115.812.02.63.7
1960
 
34477.39.4-0.8-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS931111.495.55.7
14.1
449142.5126.713.524.9


The first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game was Joe Black on October 1, 1952, although Black's Dodgers team lost that World Series to the Yankees. As with so many of the earliest African-Americans in (white) major-league baseball, Black got a late start in the (white) major leagues, not debuting until his age 28 season. The result was a fairly short and moderately successful career, leaving us wondering "what-if".

Joe Black: Player Won-Lost Record
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1952BRO28
56
9.17.10.5621.0
2.1
7.06.60.5140.21.1
1953BRO29
34
3.84.50.461-0.4
0.1
3.44.00.463-0.30.1
1954BRO30
5
0.10.20.250-0.1
-0.1
0.20.60.286-0.2-0.1
31
38
5.64.90.5320.4
1.0
6.56.00.5190.31.0
1956CIN32
33
2.43.00.439-0.4
-0.0
2.83.30.458-0.30.1
1957WS133
7
0.10.60.187-0.3
-0.2
0.50.90.350-0.3-0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
173
21.120.40.5090.4
2.9
20.521.50.488-0.52.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
4
1.11.40.436 0.00.91.20.426 -0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
177
22.221.70.509
2.9
21.422.70.488 2.0


Finally, a couple more of the earliest African-Americans to help integrate the (white) major leagues: Hall-of-Famers Roy Campanella and Monte Irvin.

Roy Campanella Monte Irvin
Season Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1948
26836.95.60.9
1.4
1949
2713011.29.60.9
1.7
30362.72.60.00.3
1950
2812612.49.81.3
2.2
3111013.110.11.12.0
1951
2914316.311.52.5
3.6
3215123.416.22.84.4
1952
3012716.210.43.0
4.1
33464.33.70.10.5
1953
3114419.710.44.9
6.2
3412417.714.51.02.3
1954
321118.68.8-0.1
0.7
3513517.514.90.82.1
1955
3312314.210.02.3
3.3
36515.05.6-0.40.0
1956
3412412.610.41.1
2.1
3711112.412.7-0.70.4
1957
351038.88.10.5
1.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,214126.994.617.4
26.4
76496.280.34.812.0


References: Baseball-Reference bullpen, Baseball Almanac

All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.

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