Friday, December 5, 2014
Emmett L Ashford (Ash)-1st African American Umpire in MLB
Emmett Littleton Ashford nicknamed "Ash", was the 1st African American Umpire in Major League Baseball, working in the American League from 1966 to 1970. Ashford was born in Los Angeles, California. Ashford earned money selling Liberty magazine, and as a cashier in a supermarket. He attended Jefferson High School, and was co-editor of the school paper, played baseball and track, and was the Senior Class President. Ashford attended Los Angeles Junior College and Chapman University. In about 1936, Ashford took a job as a post office clerk, a position he held for 15 years. Ashford served in the Navy during World War II, and was inspired to become the 1st black major league umpire while stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas, when an announcement came on the radio that Jackie Robinson had broken baseball's color barrier. In 1951, Ashford took a leave of absence from his post office job to umpire in the Southwestern International League, becoming the 1st black umpire in the traditionally white professional baseball system. When he was offered a full-season umpiring job, Ashford resigned from the postal service. He moved on to the Western International League in 1953, and was promoted to the Pacific Coast League in 1954, where he spent 12 years. In 1963, Ashford was named the PCL's umpire-in-chief, making him responsible for training crews and advising the league on disputed games or rules. Ashford also brought a new style to being an umpire. He wore jewelry, including flashy cuff links, and wore polished shoes and freshly-pressed suits.