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Chuck Harmon (1924–2019), first African-American to play for the Cincinnati Reds

Getty Images / Washington Post / Michael Temchine

Remained a popular figure in Cincinnati

Chuck Harmon was the first African-American to play for the Cincinnati Reds, taking the field in 1954, seven years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Harmon was a star baseball and basketball player for the University of Toledo. He was a utility player for the Reds for three seasons, hitting .242, than played for the Cardinals and Phillies. He retained close ties to the Reds and was often seen at games and events.

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Died: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 (Who else died March 19?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 94, announced by the Cincinnati Reds.


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On being the first black player for the Reds: "Being the first, I said, 'So I was the first. So what? I'm going to make sure I'm not the last.' That's all I thought about. Being the first? Great. But I watched how I carried myself so I wouldn't negate all the rest of the black ballplayers from getting a chance with the Reds. Don't go out there and act a fool." —Harmon in 2007, according to the Dayton Daily News

What they said about him: "The entire Reds family is saddened to lose one of its great ambassadors. The first African American to play for the Reds, Chuck Harmon was much more than a ballplayer. He represents a pivot point in Reds history. Chuck’s positive attitude and disposition helped diffuse the adversity he faced, and set the tone for those following in his footsteps. He was beloved by his teammates during his career and remained a treasure to this franchise and its fans throughout his life. He will be missed.” —Reds Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini in a statement

Full obituary: Dayton Daily News

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