Monte Irvin, the greatest living Negro Leagues baseball player turned 95 years old in 2014. That name may not resonate with today’s baseball fans, but it should. Irvin is another black barrier-breaker and trendsetter, who used sports as a weapon to bridge races, communities and eventually nations.
Irvin, a native of Haleburg, Alabama who grew up in Orange, New Jersey, was one of the first black players to be signed after Jackie Robinson integrated baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He was a baseball beast who shined both with the Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues, where he was a teammate of Larry Doby, the first player to break the color barrier in the American League, and with the NY Giants in the National League.