02 Feb

the rope

If there were questions about whether Bob Boyd could handle major league pitching, he answered them in his first career at-bat. The Potts Camp native delivered a game-tying pinch single for the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 8, 1951, at old Comiskey Park. He would go on to bat .293 over parts of nine big league seasons. In recognition of Black History Month, let us sing the praises of “The Rope,” one of the first black Mississippians to make the majors. Boyd, who earned his nickname for his knack for hitting line drives, starred in the Negro Leagues before getting his shot in MLB. He batted .362 over a four-year span with the Memphis Red Sox in the late 1940s and played in two East-West All-Star Games, according to the Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Leagues. He was the first black player signed by the White Sox in 1950, three years after Jackie Robinson’s debut. A left-handed hitting first baseman, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Boyd didn’t have a lot of power, but he could put the ball in play. He hit .342 (and stole 41 bases) in the Pacific Coast League in 1951 and .320 in that high-caliber league in 1952. He was 31 when he got his first call to The Show and 37 before he became a regular, batting .318 for the 1957 Baltimore Orioles. He hung around the majors until 1961 and played in the minors into his mid-40s. Boyd died in Kansas in 2004.