02 Feb

a little history

In recognition of Black History Month, here’s another tribute to Luke Easter — the first black Mississippian to play in the majors — and to the first home run of his all-too-brief MLB career. The 70th anniversary of that moment comes this year. Easter, born in Jonestown in 1915, debuted with Cleveland in 1949 (at age 34) but didn’t go yard in 45 at-bats that season. The left-handed slugger, who would become widely known for his prodigious bombs, didn’t get his first in the majors until May 6, 1950, in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. Easter hit a three-run shot off New York right-hander Allie Reynolds in the third inning, propelling the Indians to a 5-4 win. Easter’s second big league homer came in Game 2 of that Saturday twinbill, when he belted a two-run shot off Fred Sanford in the first inning. Easter hit 26 more home runs in 1950 and 91 more all told in a big league career that ended in 1954. He played well into his 40s in the minor leagues and hit, according to baseballreference.com, 345 professional homers, including five in two Negro League seasons in 1947 and ’48. He played several years of semi-pro ball before then.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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