Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first black player on the Boston Red Sox, has died. He was 85. Green played parts of four seasons with the Red Sox and one with the New York Mets from 1959-63, batting .246 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs. But his place in history was made when he stepped on the field as a pinch-runner against the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1959. The Red Sox were the last team in the major leagues to field a black player.
The only time I saw Gary Carter in person was the year he was inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame, in 2003. It wasn’t at the induction ceremony, but in Cooperstown that same weekend.
For most of the 1980s, I would travel on a bus from Albany, NY, to my hometown of Binghamton, NY to attend an annual Halloween party, held by a high school friend of mine and her then-husband. The only way to get there was by Greyhound bus, and there must have been some sort of labor dispute in 1986 because they had replacement drivers. I remember the driver on the return trip to Albany get off the wrong Oneonta exit, riding through parts of the city not usually traversed on that route, and ending up in parts of the SUNY Cobleskill campus I had never seen before; two or three passengers, including myself, ended up being the navigators during a torrential downpour.
As for the Saturday night party itself, it happened to coincide with Game 6 of the World Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox. Boston was up 3 games to 2. Usually, we didn’t watch the Series at this party, but the hostess was a big Mets fan. In fact, she was wearing an excellent replica of the uniform of the Mets’ All-Star catcher, Gary Carter, her favorite player, who was the hero of Game 4; her coif even replicated the curls in his hair.
The room went wild after the Mets’ unexpected Game 6 win, due in no small part because of Carter’s 10th inning, two-out hit. There had already been quite a bit of drinking going on and there was…more afterward.
Fortunately, I didn’t miss the final game of the Series, as I had feared. The same blinding rainstorm that made my return trip to Albany on Sunday so eventful also rained out the game at New York’s Shea Stadium, so I did get to see the Mets’ victory in the decisive Game 7 on Monday when I got back to Albany. Incidentally, “NBC’s broadcast of Game 7 (which went up against a Monday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants on ABC) garnered a Nielsen rating of 38.9 and a 55 share, making it the highest-rated single World Series game to date.”
The only time I saw Gary Carter in person was the year he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 2003. It wasn’t at the induction ceremony but in Cooperstown that same weekend. He seemed like a great guy who had what Yahoo! sports called an “unapologetic joy” for the game. I was sorry to hear that he died this week of a malignant brain tumor, diagnosed in May 2011. *** Gary Carter dead at 57, and on the passing of youth.