Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Monte Irvin dies; star in both Negro Leagues and majors

HOUSTON — Monte Irvin, the Giants outfielder who was one of the first outstanding black players in the majors and a Hall of Famer for his brilliance in the Negro leagues, where he spent most of his prime years before baseball's color barrier was shattered, died Monday night at his home in Houston. He was 96.

Mr. Irvin was 30 when he joined the Giants in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. He spent seven of his eight big-league seasons with the Giants and one with the Cubs in 1956. A native of Haleburg, Ala., he played in the Negro, Mexican and Puerto Rican leagues during his 20s.

Mr. Irvin could hit for average and power, steal bases and cut down a runner with his howitzer of a right arm. He finished with a career average of .293 with 99 homers and 443 RBIs.

Mr. Irvin also became the first black executive in Major League Baseball's hierarchy, assigned to promote a game that had once barred him because of his race.

After his career was over, Mr. Irvin lived for many years in Citrus County and helped promote the Devil Rays in their early days. He, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Al Lopez threw out the ceremonial first pitches for the Rays' inaugural game in 1998.

"Today is a sad, sad day for me," said Hall of Famer and former teammate Willie Mays. "I lost someone I cared about and admired very, very much; someone who was like a second father to me. Monte was a kind of guy that you had to be around to get to know. But once you became friends, he always had your back. You had a friend for life."

Mr. Irvin was one of the most important contributors during the Giants' amazing pennant drive in 1951 when they overtook the Dodgers after trailing by 131/2 games in mid August. Irvin batted .312 with 24 homers and an NL-leading 121 RBIs.

That year Mr. Irvin teamed with Hank Thompson and Mays to form the first all-black outfield in the majors. He finished third in the NL's MVP voting.

"Monte loved our game dearly, bridged eras of its history and touched many lives," commissioner Rob Manfred said. "Major League Baseball will be forever grateful to courageous individuals like Monte Irvin."

DODGERS: The team agreed to a six-year deal with hard-throwing Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra, 24, according to several reports. The deal could be worth about $30 million, Yahoo Sports reported. … Alex Anthopoulos was named vice president of baseball operations. He spent the past six years as GM of the Blue Jays.

MARLINS: Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and infielder Chris Johnson agreed to terms on free agent contracts. Chen accepted a five-year, $80 million deal. Terms of Johnson's deal were not announced.

ROCKIES: Outfielder Gerardo Parra agreed to a three-year, $27.5 million deal.

Monte Irvin dies; star in both Negro Leagues and majors 01/12/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 9:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI


    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  2. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look


    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …

  3. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  4. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  5. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge


    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]