Historic Baseball

Historic Baseball

Bringing Baseball History To Center Field

Sam JethroeSamuel JethroeNickname: JetBorn: Jan. 20, 1918 in East St. Louis, Ill. Died: June 18, 2001 in Erie, Pa.Debut: 1950 | Pos: OFHt: 6’1″ | Wt: 178 | B: B | T: RYrs G AB R H HR RBI SB BA4 442 1763 280 460 49 181 98 .261>> Visit the Sam Jethroe biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.Nicknamed “Jet” for his tremendous speed on the base paths, Sam Jethroe became one of the first Negro League players to break through baseball’s color barrier. He was also for the first black athlete to play for the Boston Braves organization.In 1945, noted Black sports journalist Wendell Smith arranged for three black players to get a try out at Fenway Park. Jethroe, Marvin Williams and Jackie Robinson didn’t get a job with the Red Sox that day, but Jethroe followed Robinson into Major League Baseball. His first year performance also earned him National League Rookie of the Year honors in 1950. He was 32 that season and, to this day, remains baseball’s oldest rookie. At the end of his major league career, he had accumulated a .261 average, 49 home runs, 181 RBIs and 98 stolen bases in 442 games. After his major league career had ended, he played for seven more seasons in the minor leagues.In 1950, in his first season in the Majors, Jethroe hit .273 with 18 home runs 58 runs batted. His 35 stolen bases were enough to lead the National League. He stole 35 bases again in 1951 and, once again, led the National League.In 1952, problems seemed to set in for Jethroe. All of his numbers tumbled and the rumors were that he had vision problems. There were also rumors that he was really older than his listed age. In 1953, he returned to the minors and batted .307 in Toledo. Pittsburgh purchased his contract, but he only appeared in two games for the Pirates in 1954. Following that, he spent five more seasons with Toronto of the International League.In six seasons with the Negro League’s Cleveland Buckeyes, Jethroe had a .342 career batting average and had been selected to the East-West All-Star Game four times. He is credited with being the only player to hit a ball over the 472-foot leftfield fence at Toledo’s Swayne Field and into the coal piles of the Red Man Tobacco Factory. During the 1948-49 seasons, he played for Montreal of the International Association. In 1949, he stole 89 bases drove in 83 runs while batting .326.