Mickey Stubblefield
 

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WILKER HARRISON THELBERT STUBBLEFIELD
Born:
 February 26, 1926
Place: Mayfield, Kentucky

Height:  
Weight:  

Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Position:
Pitcher

Team:
Mayfield Clothiers

First African-American player in the Kitty League


Sources

Mary K. (Stubblefield) Arvin

 


 

When 24-year-old Mickey Stubblefield took the mound for the Mayfield Clothiers on June 26, 1952 against the Paducah Chiefs, he became the first African-American player in the history of the Kitty League.

He began his professional career in 1947 with the Omaha Rockets, an independent club that barnstormed against Negro League teams. He pitched for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1948 and 1949, reportedly winning 20 games in his first season. He played for McCook in the Nebraska State League in 1950, finishing with a 13-6 record.

Two years later, Stubblefield was back in Mayfield working for the local Dr. Pepper Bottling Company and pitching for a local semi-pro club called the Black Hawks. 

Meanwhile, the Mayfield Clothiers were in the Kitty League cellar with a 20-31 record. Pittsburgh Pirates scouts Frank Rickey (brother of Pirates GM Branch Rickey) and Bill Burwell were in town signing local talent for the struggling club and approached Stubblefield about playing for the Clothiers.

About 1,500 fans -- black and white -- packed War Memorial Park and overflowed into the adjacent football grandstand in right field for Stubblefield's historic Kitty League debut. They gave him a standing ovation to start the game and he struck out the first batter he faced, Paducah third baseman Russ Davis.

He struck out six batters, walked five, and scattered six hits in the complete game victory, winning 5-4.

Mayfield manager Red Barrett utilized Stubblefield as a starter and reliever. Because of racial fears in most Kitty League towns, he pitched only in Mayfield, with the exception of one start at Paducah on August 2. He was scheduled to start a game at Jackson four days later, but it was postponed due to rain.

Kitty League president Shelby Peace shared with the Pittsburgh Courier (an African-American newspaper) the sentiments of league owners concerning Stubblefield. "Actually, none of the club owners are in favor of Negroes in the league," he explained, "but there is no law that would prevent it, except in parks that are municipally owned."

No doubt Stubblefield encountered racial prejudice both on and off the field during his three-month stint in the Kitty League. Yet he remained with the Clothiers and pitched his final game on August 28, a 6-3 loss to the Madisonville Miners.

 
 

 

 

Kitty League Pitching Statistics

YEAR CLUB ERA W L G CG IP ER H BB SO
1952 Mayfield 3.70 7 6 15 7 107 44 106 41 70

 

 

 

(c) 2006 Kevin D. McCann. All rights reserved.