boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Breaking down Boston's barriers

Catching up with Pumpsie Green

EL CERRITO, California -- He was the first African-American player to wear a Boston Red Sox uniform.

A significant figure in Boston Red Sox history, Pumpsie Green joined Boston in 1959 and made his Major League debut on July 24. It was a memory he will never forget.

”It was exciting, scary and I went through a lot of changes, especially on the way to Boston,” said Green. “I was questioned all the way up to Boston and all the time I was there by a lot of people, groups and players. It was a learning experience for me.”

“Sometimes it would get on my nerves. Sometimes I wonder if I would have even made it to the Major Leagues if it had not been for this Boston thing. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off it was not for the Boston thing. Things like that you can never answer, but those questions come up for me.”

It was twelve years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 that Boston became the last team to sign an African-American player.

”That’s a lot of what I thought about,” said Green. “One day in July I got a phone call and I was heading to Boston. Then the cameras came on.”

Green was not only the first African-American player in Red Sox history, but he was also a first-time Major Leaguer. Dealing with all the hoopla combined with playing in his first Major League game made it a tough situation for Green

“Besides being the first African-American in Boston, it was exciting no matter who I was with,” said Green. “Since it was Boston, so much was made of it. Everybody was on the telephone trying to get a hold of me. A lot of times I wish they would have just eased up and let me play baseball. I was nervous coming up to the Major Leagues.”

Green now resides in the El Cerrito, California, located in the Bay Area, with his wife Marie. They have been married 46 years and have a son Jerry, 45, who is an antique collector, and a daughter, Heidi 34, who is a teacher. They also have a 14-year-old granddaughter, Brittany.

After retiring from baseball, Green returned to California and became a baseball coach and student supervisor at Berkeley High School.

“I liked it,” said Green. “When I got out of baseball a friend of mine knew I was looking for a job and he said I might like this. I went around and talked to some people at Berkeley and they hired me. The rest is history.”

Green has since retired from Berkeley High School and is enjoying life.

“I look after my granddaughter from time to time and take her to school,” said Green. “I joined the YMCA to keep myself in better shape and do that about five times a week. If I sense a few pounds coming on then I try and go seven days a week. I also try and relax and keep up with what’s going in sports.”

Green, a switch-hitting middle infielder, played four seasons (1959-62) with the Red Sox and was then traded to the New York Mets with Tracy Stallard and a player to be named later (Al Moran) for Felix Mantilla. He played one more season (1963) with the Mets, his final season in the Major Leagues.

”I was surprised,” said Green of the trade. “I didn’t know they were going to trade me. You go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning with somebody else.”

Since 1959, the Red Sox have made significant strides and Green is very proud to be a Red Sox alum.

”I take a lot of pride (in being a Red Sox alum) and I keep an eye on the Red Sox,” said Green. “People talk to me about the Red Sox and I pull for the Red Sox.

“I often tell people that since I am at this stage of my career if I had to do it over again I would like to do the same thing. That’s the way I feel about it.” 

The Green File

NAME: Elijah Jerry Green

BIRTHDAY: October 27, 1933

RESIDES: El Cerrito, California

CURRENTLY: Retired from Berkeley High School, where he was the baseball coach and a student supervisor.

ENJOYS: Spending time with his granddaughter Brittany, working out at the local YMCA, and keeping up with what’s going on in sports.

CLAIM TO FAME: First African-American player to wear a Boston Red Sox uniform. Played with the Red Sox from 1959-62.

HIGHLIGHT OF BASEBALL CAREER: When the Red Sox purchased his contract. He was playing for Stockton and was the MVP of the League.

DID YOU KNOW? His brother Cornell Green played defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys

CURRENT BASEBALL PLAYER YOU MOST ADMIRE: Barry Bonds

TOUGHEST PITCHER YOU FACED: Camilo Pasqual

ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE RED SOX FANS: Intelligent

LAST TIME IN BOSTON: Earlier this year

FAVORITE THING ABOUT NEW ENGLAND: Different and wonderful food

IF YOU COULD CLONE ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE: Michael Jordan

WOULD YOU EVER PARTICIPATE IN A REALITY TV SHOW: No

EVER WALK THE FREEDOM TRAIL: Yes I did, but not while I was playing baseball

CLAM CHOWDA OR LOBSTA: Clam Chowder

ROTARIES - KEEP'EM OR GET RID OF THEM: Keep’em

WHO HAS IT WORSE - CUBS OR RED SOX FANS: I think it’s a tie

PICK TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES: St. Louis Cardinals

SEARCH GLOBE ARCHIVES
   
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months