Card of the Moment #66
April 15th, 2011 by slangon

Todays Card of the Moment is brought to you by the color red. And the color yellow. And the number 69. And also Mark from Marks Ephemera. I did a trade post about some cards Mark sent me a while ago and mentioned that he also sent a few cards that I wasn’t showing because I wanted to give them their own posts. This was one of them.

1961 Topps #69 Earl Wilson

Earl Wilson pitched in the Majors from 1959 to 1970, compiling a 121-109 record with 1452 strikeouts and a 3.69 ERA. He pitched for the Red Sox, the Tigers and the Padres. Wilson was actually the first black pitcher to throw for the Red Sox when he debuted on July 31, 1959. The Sox had just integrated ten days prior to that when Pumpsie Green was penciled into the lineup. As if being the last of the Major League teams to integrate weren’t shameful enough, there’s a story of Wilson during spring training of 1966 that further paints a bleak picture of the Boston management at the time. Apparently Wilson headed into a Florida bar with 2 white team mates, Dennis Bennett and Dave Morehead, and was told “we don’t serve niggers here”. The infuriated Wilson told the Red Sox management about the incident and was told to forget about it as if it never happened and on no account to speak to the press. Wilson did speak to the media about what happened against their wishes. Later that year he was traded to Detroit, who he went on to win a World Series with in 1968. Incidentally, the Tigers finished the season 17 games in front of Boston.

Wilson was also the first black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the American League when he blanked the Angels on June 26, 1962. The Red Sox won 2-0 and Wilson drove in one of those runs himself with a 3rd inning home run. Only 2 other pitchers in history have thrown a no-hitter and homered in the same game (Wes Ferrell in 1931 and Rick Wise in 1971, who actually hit 2 homers in his no-hitter). Earl is also the only pitcher aside from CC Sabathia who has homered in both leagues in the same season.

Earl Wilson passed away in Southfield, Michigan in 2005.

After reading about the racial tensions that seemed to go on between Earl and the Red Sox, I’m kind of curious to know what he thought about the fact that Topps put white dudes in both the cartoons on the back of his card.

This card is a perfect example of what I love about doing these Card of the Moment posts. When Mark first sent me the card, I really liked it because it looks pretty cool (for a 1961 Topps card) and of course because it’s vintage. Now that I’ve learned all these things about Earl Wilson though, I’m genuinely really excited to own this card. Just goes to show, sometimes commons aren’t just commons.

One Response to “Card of the Moment #66”

  1. Thanks for featuring Earl. He was a good ballplayer and has an interesting assortment of base cards, all very attainable.

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