When he joined the New York Giants, Irvin became one of the earliest African-American MLB players. He played in two World Series for the Giants. When future Hall of Famer Willie Mays joined the Giants in 1951, Irvin was asked to mentor him. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. After his playing career, Irvin was a baseball scout and held an administrative role with the MLB commissioner’s office.
Irvin played for the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League in 1938. Larry Doby, the first player to break the color barrier in theAmerican League, was Irvin’s double play partner with Newark at one time. After hitting in the Negro leagues for high batting averages 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. The Newark Eagles business manager, Effa Manley, would not let Rickey sign Irvin without compensation. Rickey had already obtained Robinson without paying for his rights to his Negro league clubs. Said Irvin,
- “… from a purely business standpoint, Mrs. Manley felt that Branch Rickey was obligated to compensate her for my contract. That position probably delayed my entry into the major leagues … Mrs. Manley told Rickey that he had taken Don Newcombe for no money but she wasn’t going to let him take me without some compensation. Furthermore, if he tried to do it, she would sue and fight him in court … Rickey contacted her to say he was no longer interested released me … the Giants picked up my contract …”
Irvin earned MVP honors in the 1945–46 Puerto Rican Winter League and after he spent the winter of 1948–49 in Cuba.
Smallthoughts:Old School Tuesday spotlights…Monte Irvin.
|July 8, 1949, for the New York Giants|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1956, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Runs batted in||443|
Major League Baseball
|Career highlights and awards|