SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants plan to retire the No. 20 jersey number worn by Hall of Famer Monte Irvin.
Irvin, who became the first black player in Giants history when he signed with the club on July 8, 1949, will be honored at a June 26 ceremony at AT&T Park prior to San Francisco's game against the Boston Red Sox.
Irvin made history in 1951 when he joined Mays and Hank Thompson to form the first all-African-American outfield. That same season, the Haleberg, Ala. native batted .312 with 24 home runs and a league-leading 121 RBIs while helping the Giants rally to beat the Dodgers for the NL pennant.
"We were young, most of us unmarried," Irvin said from his home in Texas. "We didn't know the difference then but we knew if Jackie (Robinson) could make it, it would be easier for the rest of us. He had to endure a lot. That was the price we paid for progress."
Irvin will become just the 11th player to have his jersey number retired by the Giants. Fellow Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Orlando Cepeda are also expected to attend the event.
Inducted into the baseball's Hall of Fame in 1973, Irvin owned a career .293 average with 99 home runs and 443 RBIs in eight season in the majors, but his legacy was established long before that as a five-time All-Star in the Negro Leagues.
After retiring following the 1956 season, Irvin spent two years as a scout for the New York Mets and was a public relations specialist for the Commissioner's Office under Bowie Kuhn. The 91-year-old currently serves on the Veteran's Committee for the Hall of Fame.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.