(February 25, 1919-January 11, 2016)
Born in Haleburg, Alabama
Birth name was Monford Merrill Irvin
Outfielder for the Newark Eagles (1937-42,1946-48), New York Giants (1949-55) and Chicago Cubs (1956)
Five time Negro League All-Star (1941,1946-48; included two All-Star games in 1946)
One-time Major League All-Star (1952)
.293 career batting average
99 home runs
#20 retired by the Giants
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1973)
Why he might be annoying
He started playing Negro League baseball while in high school, using a pseudonym to avoid jeopardizing his status as an amateur athlete.
He eventually dropped out of college, despite having an athletic scholarship, to play baseball full-time.
Branch Rickey approached him about signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers and breaking baseball’s color barrier (1945); Irvin, uncertain if his skills would hold up after spending two years away from baseball during World War II, declined.
He admitted ‘I was way past my peak’ when he signed with the Giants.
The only year he was voted onto the National League All-Star team, he was unable to play, having broken his ankle in a spring exhibition game (1952).
Why he might not be annoying
His parents were sharecroppers.
He lettered in four sports in high school and set a New Jersey state record for the javelin.
He served in an Army engineering unit during World War II.
He was married to Dee Otey for 66 years until her death.
He was not bitter about losing out on the chance to break the color barrier: ‘Jackie did such a wonderful job. It all worked out OK, and I have no regrets. None.’.
He served as a mentor to fellow Giant and Hall of Famer Willie Mays.
He was one of the key players in the Giants’ famed come from behind drive to win the 1951 pennant.
Roy Campanella said, ‘Monte was the best all-around player I have ever seen,’ adding, ‘As great as he was in 1951, he was twice that good ten years earlier in the Negro Leagues.’
He became the first black executive in Major League Baseball when Bowie Kuhn named him a public relations specialist for the Commissioner’s office.
Credit: C. Fishel
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In 2016, Out of 23 Votes: 8.70% Annoying
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