03 Feb

historic significance

Much attention is being given to the fact that two black quarterbacks will face off in the Super Bowl for the first time on Feb. 12. As a nod to Black History Month, let’s highlight a less-celebrated but perhaps equally significant event that occurred in baseball 70 years ago and involved a pioneering Mississippian. Dave Hoskins, a Greenwood native, faced future Hall of Famer Satchel Paige in an American League game on Sept. 7, 1953, marking the first time in history that African-Americans opposed each other as starting pitchers in the traditional major leagues. This was six years after Jackie Robinson broke the color line. Hoskins was a major league rookie at age 35 in 1953 with Cleveland. Hoskins, who had attended G.H. Jones Industrial School in north Mississippi (per a SABR article), pitched several years in the Negro Leagues and was the first black player to appear in two minor leagues, including the Texas League in 1952. He became on May 10, 1953, the first black Mississippian to win a game in the major leagues. On May 24 of that year, he and Paige, with the St. Louis Browns, faced each other as relief pitchers in a game in Cleveland. Months later, they met again as starters at old Cleveland Stadium. Neither pitched well. Hoskins gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings, Paige seven in 4 2/3. Neither was involved in the decision as the Indians prevailed 10-7. Hoskins won nine games for Cleveland in ’53 but would last just one more year in the majors, finishing 9-4 with a 3.81 ERA — and a piece of history — over 40 games. P.S. Jackson State is ranked eighth among the big schools and Rust College No. 3 among the smalls in Black College Nines preseason HBCU Top 10 polls.

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