This Day in Black History: April 12, 1966

Emmett Ashford

This Day in Black History: April 12, 1966

Emmett Ashford became the first Black major league baseball umpire on April 12, 1966.

Published April 12, 2013

Emmett Ashford's journey to become the first African-American Major League Baseball umpire is one of perseverance. The Los Angeles native made the accomplishment on April 12, 1966.

He had once given up his baseball glove, but was inspired to pick it back up when he heard Jackie Robinson broke color barriers in Major League Baseball when he signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945.

Ashford immediately quit his job at the post office and joined the minor leagues where he played for 15 years before finally accomplishing his goal of meeting Robinson at the majors. He made his debut at D.C. Stadium where he brought his personality and charm as an American League umpire.

He died on March 1, 1980, at the age of 65.

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(Photo:  John Vawter Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Written by Natelege Whaley


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