Pumpsie Green was born on Friday, October 27, 1933, in Boley, Oklahoma. Green was 25 years old when he broke into the big leagues on July 21, 1959, with the Boston Red Sox. His biographical data, year-by-year hitting stats, fielding stats, pitching stats (where applicable), career totals, uniform numbers, salary data and miscellaneous items-of-interest are presented by Baseball Almanac on this comprehensive Pumpsie Green baseball stats page.
"Some day I'll write a book and call it 'How I Got the Nickname Pumpsie' and sell it for one dollar, and if everybody who ever asked me that question buys the book, I'll be a millionaire." - Pumpsie Green in Baseball's Greatest Quotations (Paul Dickson, Harper Resource Publishing, March 1982)
Pumpsie Green Autograph on a 1961 Topps Baseball Card (#454 | Checklist )
Pumpsie Green Pitching Stats
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Pumpsie Green Hitting Stats
Pumpsie Green Fielding Stats
|1959 Red Sox||2B||45||43||1,167||248||5.5||241||109||132||7||38||n/a||n/a||n/a||.972||5.58|
|1959 Red Sox||SS||1||0||3||0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0||n/a||n/a||n/a||.000||0.00|
|1960 Red Sox||2B||69||24||870||168||2.4||165||82||83||3||17||n/a||n/a||n/a||.982||5.12|
|1960 Red Sox||SS||41||33||912||162||4.0||154||68||86||8||16||n/a||n/a||n/a||.951||4.56|
|1961 Red Sox||2B||7||4||114||13||1.9||13||7||6||0||1||n/a||n/a||n/a||1.000||3.08|
|1961 Red Sox||SS||57||53||1,428||266||4.7||250||84||166||16||35||n/a||n/a||n/a||.940||4.73|
|1962 Red Sox||2B||18||9||300||43||2.4||41||16||25||2||6||n/a||n/a||n/a||.953||3.69|
|1962 Red Sox||SS||5||3||96||19||3.8||16||6||10||3||2||n/a||n/a||n/a||.842||4.50|
Pumpsie Green Miscellaneous Stats
|Baserunning Statistics||Other Positions||Common Hitting Ratios||Common Pitching Ratios|
|1959 Red Sox||4||2||.667||4||1||n/a||172.0||7.8||17.2||-||-||-|
|1960 Red Sox||3||4||.429||31||10||n/a||86.7||5.5||12.4||-||-||-|
|1961 Red Sox||4||2||.667||29||0||n/a||36.5||6.8||8.1||-||-||-|
|1962 Red Sox||1||0||1.000||40||0||n/a||45.5||5.1||8.3||-||-||-|
Pumpsie Green Miscellaneous Items of Interest
|Team [Click for Roster]||Uniform Numbers||Salary||All-Star||World Series|
|1959 Boston Red Sox||12||$3,800.00||-||-|
|1960 Boston Red Sox||12||$4,000.00||-||-|
|1961 Boston Red Sox||12||$5,500.00||-||-|
|1962 Boston Red Sox||12||$5,200.00||-||-|
|1963 New York Mets||18||$7,000.00||-||-|
|Pumpsie Green Stats by Baseball Almanac|
Did you know Pumpsie Green's brother, Cornell Green, was a long-time safety for the Dallas Cowboys ( NFL )? Baseball Almanac likes to take a look "beyond the stats" and we hope you enjoy the following historical baseball article about Pumpsie Green:
THE "REAL" PUMPSIE
The Boston Red Sox became the last pre-expansion major league team to integrate black players when they promoted infielder Elijah Jerry Green from AAA in July 1959. Nicknamed "Pumpsie" by his mother, Green had been hitting .320 for Minneapolis with an OBP of .439, so the Red Sox thought he would be a good choice to help pull the franchise into the 2nd-half of the 20th century.
So, for the Red Sox, Pumpsie Green was the one .
Although Green played well for manager Gene Mauch at Minneapolis 59, his minor league career hadn't been exceptional. His highest batting average had been .258 for AA Oklahoma City in 1957. With the glove, Pumpsie was brutal, committing 40 errors in '57 and '32 in '58. The BoSox were hoping these stats were just growing pains and that Green's performance at AAA in '59 was indicative of the "real" Pumpsie.
The "real" Pumpsie never came close to a .320 batting average at the major league level. For the last two months of the 1959 season, Green hit just .233 while logging time at second base and shortstop. He did manage a respectable .350 OBP, helped by 29 walks in 207 plate appearances. His fielding was so-so, a .972 percentage on 248 chances, so he wasn't helping the Red Sox much in the field.
Boston added pitcher Earl Wilson , another black player, to their roster later that season. A good case could be made that the tall righty might have been a better candidate to be the first black to play for the Red Sox. After appearing in 9 games in '59, Wilson would later become a mainstay of Boston's starting rotation from 1962-65, logging double-digit win totals each year. The Louisiana native would be traded in 1966 to the Tigers, where he would win 69 games over the next five seasons, including 22 in '67.
Green fielded a little better in 1960 (.982) and lifted his average to .242 in 133 games. In 1961, Pumpsie hit .260 with a fine .376 OBP as a part-time player. However, in the field he reminded no one of sure-handed glove men like Johnny Pesky or Bobby Doerr . Reverting to his minor league form, Green logged an abysmal .940 fielding percentage at shortstop.
The Red Sox hoped Pumpsie would break-out in 1962. But his average dipped to .231 and glove work continued to be poor (.953 fielding percentage). This lack of production earned him a lot of bench time in 62; his season might be almost completely forgotten today had it not been for an incident that occurred on July 26 of that year.
The Red Sox had just been pounded by the Yankees in a game in which Boston pitcher Gene Conley gave up eight runs in two innings of work. After the contest, the team bus became stuck in a Manhattan traffic jam. Conley and Pumpsie asked manager Pinky Higgins if they go to a nearby bar and relieve themselves. Higgins gave the go-ahead and the pair jumped off.
Details are still a little sketchy about what happened next but apparently Conley and Green decided to hoist a brew or two (or three or maybe four) after using the rest room. When they left the bar, the team bus was gone. Miffed at being abandoned and perhaps fueled by alcohol, the pair decided to go AWOL from the Red Sox.
No one knew where they disappeared to and it made headlines across the nation. Pumpsie went to a hotel, sobered-up and returned to the team on July 27th. Conley stayed incognito (and reportedly drunk) for a couple more days before being spotted trying to board a plane to Israel at Idlewild Airport, without passport, ticket or luggage.
Conley , who is not Jewish, to this day says he doesn't know why he tried to catch a flight to Israel back in the summer of '62.
Pumpsie Green's reasons for bolting the team mid-season have never been revealed, either. Perhaps the thought of traveling to a far-away, exotic land to escape a declining career with a lousy team was quite tempting, especially after downing a few cold ones.
The 6'8" Conley was Boston's best pitcher and would be welcomed back with open arms (after being fined 2,000 dollars). He would finish the '62 season with 15 wins and would return to pitch for the Red Sox in 1963.
Pumpsie would be traded to the Mets in the offseason. In 1963, Green hit a career high .278 for Casey Stengel in 66 at-bats. Unfortunately, the spike batting average was off-set by Green's atrocious glove work (.857).
The Mets were lovable losers but they were trying to get better. They let the 30-year-old Green go after the season. Pumpsie, hoping for another crack at the majors, finished his playing career as a minor-leaguer in 1964 and '65.
The call never came. Green retired to become a baseball coach and math teacher at Berkley High School in Berkley, California for over 20 years.
Despite less-than-stellar career stats, Green's legacy in Boston Red Sox history is well-established. In 2009, the Red Sox honored Pumpsie for being the one to break the team's color barrier.
Pumpsie Green was never a star.
But his name will be remembered for helping to close a sad chapter in American history.
Written exclusively for Baseball Almanac by historian / author Chris Williams.
On July 21, 1959 , Pumpsie Green made his big league debut, pinch-running for Vic Wertz after he singled in the eighth inning (he was pinch hitting for Don Buddin ). Green officially became the first black player in team history for the Boston Red Sox . A day later [ box score ], Pumpsie came to the plate for his first big league at-bat, faced Early Wynn , and recalled in The San Francisco Chronicle, "That was the worst at-bat in major-league history, and I can attest to that. They put me in the lineup and I was scared to death, because the guy pitching was Early Wynn , and I'd heard of him before. Big Early Wynn . The only thing I didn't want to do was strike out."
Dr. Harvey Frommer ( website ), baseball historian, celebrated author of 40+ baseball books ( list ), and a regular contributor to Baseball Almanac, interviewed Pumpsie in 2006 and received the following personal insights for his "Where Are They Now" column:
PUMPSIE GREEN—IN HIS OWN WORDS
"I scraped up every nickel and dime together that I could, and I was there. I had to see this game with the Jackie Robinson All Stars. They were all black—Suitcase Simpson, Minnie Minoso , and the others. They played an Oakland team that was put together specially for that occasion.
"I never thought of playing pro ball. To me, baseball was just a game to play and have fun with. That was all. I used to see this big picture of Stan Musial on the side of the highway in the neighborhood. That was just about the only association I had with major league baseball. But the Pacific Coast League was really big. I listened to Bud Foster doing every Oakland Oaks game and followed a whole bunch of people on that team. It was almost a daily ritual. When I got old enough to wish, I wished I could play for the Oakland Oaks.
"We had a good high school team, coached by a man named Gene Corr, who went on to become the baseball coach at Contra Costa Junior College after my sophomore year. When I was getting set to graduate from high school, I planned to go to Fresno State, which offered me an athletic scholarship. But Gene Corr promised me that I could play shortstop if I joined his team at Contra Costa, so I switched plans and went there. In my senior year at Contra Costa, I was given a tryout by the Oakland Oaks. I tried out with the team for a week. The workouts were staged before the regular team did its exercises. Then, when the game started, Gene Corr and I would sit in the stands and watch the games.
"The people in charge of the Oaks finally came to a decision about me. It was just sign and play ball. Oakland was an independent team, so there was no draft as far as I was concerned. I got no bonus, just a regular salary of three or four hundred dollars a month. But unfortunately, I never got a chance to play with Oakland. There was a stop in Oakland's minor leagues with Wenatchee, Washington. In 1955, I was moved up to Stockton, California.
"It was June. We were in first place. I was having a great year. Then one day my manager Roy Partee said: 'Hey, Pumps, the Red Sox bought your contract. You are going to their organization, to Montgomery, Alabama.'
"I did not want to go. I wasn't ready for it. One of the reasons Boston wanted me to go to Montgomery was that Earl Wilson , the only black in their organization, was there. They wanted me to be his roommate. I managed to get permission to finish out the season with Stockton and was named the Most Valuable Player in the California State League. I hit about .300, and drove in about eighty-something runs.
"In 1956, I went to spring training with the Red Sox in Florida. I was street-smart and knew I could take care of myself. But any young black in those days going to the South had some kind of feelings. California was an integrated experience. There were some problems, but there weren't signs all over the place about where blacks and whites could go, like there were in Florida.
"I roomed all by myself. I knew that all the major league teams had been integrated except for the Red Sox. People made me aware. They wouldn't let me forget it. I did not think of myself as another Jackie Robinson , as a pioneer with the Red Sox. I just wanted to make the team. As long as I had that chance, I was going to try and do the best I could. It got to be sort of tiring when the media kept asking me questions about being the first black on the Red Sox and what it meant to me, and what was my opinion as to why Boston had never had a black player before.
"I met all the guys, including Ted Williams , at Spring Training, and they acted fine to me. I had the best spring training of anyone on the whole team, including Ted Williams . Yet, after such a great spring, I was sent down to Minneapolis. That caused a lot of writing in the newspaper, and that was when I got tired of it all. People were asking me too many questions about things I had no control over. I told them: 'You are asking the wrong person.'
"They kept me in Minneapolis until 1959. That year I was having a great year, hitting about .330 or .340. On July 21, I got a call. The Red Sox wanted me to report to Chicago. I suddenly became weak. I had to sit down quick. I just couldn't believe the news. My legs felt as if they'd collapsed. I packed in a hurry and was landing in Chicago two hours after I received the phone call.
"I had a little laugh walking out this long dungeonway in Comiskey Park. Passing the White Sox dugout, I saw an old junior college and high school baseball teammate, Jim Landis . He yelled, 'Hey, El Cerrito. You have a good season.'
My major league debut for Boston was on July 21, 1959 . I came in as a pinch-runner and remained in the game to play shortstop. We lost the game 2-1 to the White Sox. I will never forget my first at bat. I faced a guy who really shook me up. His name was Early Wynn . I had seen him on television pitching in the World Series. He had a big name. It was near the end of his career and the start of mine.
"There was more media pressure than ever. I was trying to make it as a player and as the first black man on the Red Sox. I had no roommate. It never crossed my mind to have a roommate, since I was the only black on the team. It wasn't a rule. It wasn't a law. But it was unwritten that blacks did not room with whites.
"The Red Sox got me a room in a hotel. I didn't even know if I had to pay for it or not. I got to meet Mr. Yawkey the second day that I was in Boston. He was a very gentle, short, round man. He told me why he called me up, said he wanted to get to know me, and wished me well. 'If you run into any problems or need any advice on something, you don't have to go to the coaches or manager. Come directly to me,' he said. I thanked him, and we shook hands.
"My first night in Boston was July 24. Fenway Park just felt small because it is small. Even Minneapolis, where I played for two years, seemed bigger. There was now more media pressure than ever. The first night I got to Fenway there was such a crowd, the park was full. A lot of blacks wanted to come to the game. They didn't have a seat, but they were accommodated. The Red Sox roped off a corner part of centerfield. The whole thing made me feel special, but it made my blood pressure go up, too. 'I cant fail. I cant make a mistake.' That was how I felt.
"When I first got to Boston, I got in touch with guys from the University of San Francisco—Bill Russell and K.C. Jones—who were stars on the Boston Celtics. Russ would take me around and talk to me. He told me where I should and shouldn't go.
"Around the first of September, the Red Sox flew my wife up to Boston. That made things a lot easier for me. We had been married since 1957. I had good friends on that team— Pete Runnels , Frank Malzone . Jackie Jensen and also Ted Williams were friends and fellow Californians. Williams warmed up with me before every game. Some people said he was making a statement. But it wasn't just he who befriended me; it was he and a bunch of the guys. I had some good friends on the Red Sox when I was there. It was just that after the ball diamond, they went their way and I went my way.
"I was able to function, I really was. Some of the pressure and nervousness I put on myself. I know the people expected a lot, especially the black community, which wanted me to do good.
"I roomed with no one until Earl Wilson came along. There was an unwritten rule, and that was the way it was. You get used to certain things; rooming by yourself, being by yourself. It was a way of life back then.
"There were overtones of racial things. These overtones could be heard not only at Fenway but at any other ballpark. Sometimes terrible things would be yelled out, racial epithets. Some people said I must have felt like killing somebody. However, I never did. I got where I could divorce it from my mind, cut it off. I told people I had enough troubles trying to hit the curveball. I wasnt going to worry about some loudmouths.
"Truly, I didn't have the kind of career that I would have loved to have had. I was used as a pinch runner or day-off replacement for infielders mostly. I played four seasons, 1959-62, for the Red Sox. My last game was September 26, 1963. I was 29 years old and had moved on to play a bit for the New York Mets. I didn't know Boston was going to trade me. You go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning with somebody else.
"Still, if I had it to do all over again, I would do the same thing. I never thought about the major leagues at all. I would have been happy just to have had the chance to play for the Oakland Oaks.
"I have gotten cards and letters, people wanting autographs, phone calls and people bothering me through the years wanting to talk. It has been a bother and a thrill; a combination of both.
"After I finished playing major league baseball, I went back to California, went back to being a regular working man. I worked for the school district in Berkeley. I coached the baseball team for about 25 years, taught math for awhile. And then I did a lot of nothing.
I have done card shows, talks to youth groups, lots and lots of interviews. People have not forgotten me. Every February is 'Black History Month,' and that means I am onstage; one of the people there to talk to the kids.
"I have grown children. For my children growing up, they really did not realize that I had broken the color bar with the Red Sox.
"For my contemporaries, what I did was a big deal. But a lot of young kids never heard of me. Just like a lot of young kids never heard of Willie Mays . But when there are people who know what I did and their eyes are bright and they want to talk to me, it makes me feel good.
"I have seen some players from my Red Sox time because I have been back to Boston more than once. I have seen Frank Malzone , Bill Monbouquette , and the late Dick Radatz . I never got around to exchanging Christmas cards. My roommate, Earl Wilson , who passed in 2005, I used to exchange cards with him.
"I keep up with baseball; the Red Sox, the Giants. Those are two I root for. Since I am near the Giants, I watch them more. I like New England but I am really a California guy.
"There's really nothing that interesting about me. I am just an everyday person happy with what I did. Now I am in the twilight of what was a sometimes wonderful career. A lot of people ask me if I am 'that guy.' Of course, I say 'yes.' But fame is fleeting.
"I have been married to the same wife all these years. Almost 50 years. She was there with me in Boston a couple of summers. Every once in awhile the two of us talk about those times.
"It has made me feel good when I have returned to Boston. Just that I have been there before and that I accomplished what I had set out to do. I did what I wanted to do and I don't see anything bad about anything.
"I would like to be remembered in Red Sox history as just another ball player. Aside from being the last of the first, just another ball player.
"Nowadays, I am retired from baseball coaching. I am retired from my job. I am retired from everything except chauffeuring my granddaughter, s pending time with my granddaughter Brittany. There are a whole bunch of good things that we do.
"I spend time now at the YMCA where I have heck of a lot of workouts with a bunch of guys. We meet there every morning. I take a lot of pride in having played for the Red Sox. I will always keep an eye on the Red Sox.