Baseball Hall of Fame release on Monte Irvin

Hall of Fame outfielder Monte Irvin passed away Monday night at his Houston home. Irvin died peacefully of natural causes at the age of 96.

“Monte Irvin’s affable demeanor, strong constitution and coolness under pressure helped guide baseball through desegregation and set a standard for American culture,” said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “His abilities on the field as the consummate teammate are undeniable, as evidenced by World Series titles he contributed to in both the Negro and Major leagues, and a richly-deserved plaque in Cooperstown. He was on the original committee that elected Negro Leagues stars to the Hall of Fame, something for which the Museum will always be grateful.”

A multisport athlete in his youth, Irvin starred with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League before joining the New York Giants in 1949. By 1951, Irvin was one of the National League’s most dangerous hitters, driving in a league-high 121 runs in 1951 while leading the Giants to their improbable pennant, catching the Brooklyn Dodgers down the stretch and then defeating Brooklyn in the three-game playoff.

Irvin played seven seasons with the Giants and one with the Cubs from 1949-55. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues in 1973, becoming the fourth Negro Leagues candidates inducted following Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard.

Born Feb. 25, 1919 in Haleburg, Ala., Irvin was one of the greatest amateur athletes of his time. After starring in the Mexican Leagues and Negro Leagues, Irvin was considered by many to be the leading candidate to integrate the major leagues. His play at the big league level – two years after Jackie Robinson’s debut in 1947 – proved that he was indeed one of the best players of his era.

In eight big league seasons – all coming after he turned 30 years old – Irvin batted .293 with a .383 on-base percentage, totaling 99 home runs and 443 RBI. He led the Giants with 11 hits and a .458 batting average in the 1951 World Series against the Yankees.

Irvin later served as a scout for the Mets before joining the Commissioner’s staff under Bowie Kuhn, working for almost 20 years as a public relations specialist.

Irvin was the second-oldest living Hall of Famer, behind only Bobby Doerr, and the eighth-oldest living former big leaguer overall.

Funeral and memorial services are pending.

1 Comment

Wonderful stories of a great player, man, and of that era. Thanks for the memories Mr. Justice and R.i.P. Monte.

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