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Monte Irvin
Born: February 25, 1919 (1919-02-25) (age 90)
Haleburg, Alabama
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
July 81949 for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
September 301956 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Batting average     .293
Home runs     99
Runs batted in     443

Negro leagues

Major League Baseball


  • Azules de Veracruz (1942)
  • Minor leagues (1949–50, 1955, 1957)
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1973
Election Method     Negro Leagues Committee

Monford Merrill "Monte" Irvin (born February 25, 1919 in Haleburg, Alabama) is a former left fielder and right-handed batter in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball who played with the Newark Eagles (1938-42, 46-48), New York Giants (1949-55) and Chicago Cubs (1956).



Although born in Haleburg, Alabama, Irvin grew up in Orange, New Jersey, one of five players who grew up in the Garden State to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In high school, he starred in four sports and set a state record in the javelin throw. Monte Irvin attended Lincoln University and was a star football player.

Irvin was one of the first black players to be signed after baseball's color line was broken by Jackie Robinson in 1947. He fashioned a career of dual excellence both with the Eagles in the Negro leagues, and with the Giants in the National League. After hitting in the Negro leagues for high marks of .422 and .396 (1940-41), Irvin led the Mexican League with a .397 batting average and 20 home runs in 63 games, being rewarded with the Most Valuable Player award. After serving in the military in World War II (1943-45), he returned to the Eagles to lead his team to a league pennant. Irvin won his second batting championship hitting .401, and was instrumental in beating the Kansas City Monarchs in a seven-game Negro League World Series, batting .462 with three home runs. He was a five-time Negro League All-Star (1941, 1946-48, including two games in 1946).

He was approached in 1945 by Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey about being signed for the major leagues, but Irvin felt he was not ready to play at that level so soon after leaving the service. Irvin earned MVP honors in the 1945-46 Puerto Rican Winter League, and after he spent the 1948-49 winter in Cuba, the Giants paid $5,000 for his contract. Assigned to Jersey City (International League), Irvin batted .373. He debuted with the Giants on July 8, 1949 as a pinch-hitter. Back with Jersey City in 1950, he was called up after hitting .510 with 10 HR in 18 games. Irvin batted .299 for the Giants that season, playing first base and the outfield.

In 1951, Irvin sparked the Giants' miraculous comeback to overtake the Dodgers in the pennant race, batting .312 with 24 homers and a league-best 121 runs batted in, en route to the World Series (he went 11-24 for .458). That year Irvin teamed with Hank Thompson and Willie Mays to form the first all-black outfield in the majors. Later, he finished third in the NL's MVP voting. In 1952 he was named to the NL All-Star team.

In his major league career, Irvin batted .293, with 99 home runs, 443 RBI, 366 runs scored, 731 hits, 97 doubles, 31 triples, and 28 stolen bases, with 351 walks for a .383 on base percentage, and 1187 total bases for a .475 slugging average in 764 games played.

After retiring, Irvin worked as a scout for the New York Mets from 1967-68 and later spent 17 years (1968-1984) as a public relations specialist for the commissioner's office under the Bowie Kuhn administration. In this capacity he became the target of scorn—not racial, but because of what the public saw as a double standard. When Commissioner Kuhn, who had ordered the Braves not to bench Hank Aaron in the opening series in Cincinnati at the start of the 1974 season, sent Irvin to Atlanta, the fans booed Irvin because the Commissioner was holding Aaron to a stricter standard than he cared to follow himself (he attended a "boosters" event for the Cleveland Indians).

Monte Irvin was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, primarily on the basis of his play in the Negro leagues. Today, he serves on the Veterans Committee of the Hall of Fame and actively campaigns for recognition of deserving Negro league veterans.

Career statistics

Negro leagues

The first official statistics for the Negro leagues were compiled as part of a statistical study sponsored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and supervised by Larry Lester and Dick Clark, in which a research team collected statistics from thousands of boxscores of league-sanctioned games.[1] The first results from this study were the statistics for Negro league Hall of Famers elected prior to 2006, which were published in Shades of Glory by Lawrence D. Hogan. These statistics include the official Negro league statistics for Monte Irvin:

1938 Newark 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
1939 Newark 21 76 11 22 2 1 2 11 0 7 .289 .421
1940 Newark 35 131 26 46 9 4 3 36 2 12 .351 .550
1941 Newark 34 126 28 50 11 1 5 36 7 10 .397 .619
1942 Newark 4 18 7 11 3 1 1 11 0 0 .611 1.056
1945 Newark 1 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .200 .200
1946 Newark c 40 149 34 57 8 2 6 36 3 16 .383 .584
1947 Newark 13 48 13 16 1 0 4 10 1 8 .333 .604
1948 Newark 9 30 6 7 0 0 2 5 2 4 .233 .433
Total 9 seasons 159 587 125 210 34 9 23 146 15 57 .358 .564
   c = pennant and Negro League World Series championship.

Source: [2]

Mexican League

1942 Veracruz 63 237 74 94 17 6 20* 79 11 50 .397* .772
   * - led league.

Source: [3]

Major League Baseball

Minor League Baseball

See also


  1. ^ Hogan, p. 381.
  2. ^ Hogan, pp. 390–391.
  3. ^ Treto Cisneros, p. 27, 31, 293.


  • Clark, Dick; Lester, Larry (1994), The Negro Leagues Book, Cleveland, Ohio: Society for American Baseball Research  
  • Hogan, Lawrence D. (2006), Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball, Washington DC: National Geographic, ISBN 079225306X  
  • Holway, John B. (2001), The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues: The Other Half of Baseball History, Fern Park, FL: Hastings House Publishers, ISBN 0803820070  
  • Riley, James A. (1994), The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf, ISBN 0786709596  
  • Treto Cisneros, Pedro (2002), The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics, 1937–2001, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, ISBN 0786413786  

External links

Preceded by
Del Ennis
National League RBI Champion
Succeeded by
Hank Sauer

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