Emmett Ashford
Emmett Littleton Ashford (November 23, 1914 – March 1, 1980), nicknamed "Ash", was the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

Umpire (baseball)
In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and handling the disciplinary actions. The term is often shortened to the colloquial form ump...

 in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, working in the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 from 1966
1966 in baseball
-Major League Baseball:*World Series: Baltimore Orioles over Los Angeles Dodgers ; Frank Robinson, MVP*All-Star Game, July 12 at Busch Stadium: National League, 2–1 ; Brooks Robinson, MVP-Other champions:*College World Series: Ohio State...

 to 1970
1970 in baseball
-Major Leagues:*World Series MVP: Brooks Robinson*All-Star Game, July 14 at Riverfront Stadium: National League, 5-4 ; Carl Yastrzemski, MVP-Other champions:*Caribbean World Series: Navegantes del Magallanes *College World Series: USC...


Ashford was born in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

 and attended Chapman University
Chapman University
Chapman University is a private, non-profit university located in Orange, California affiliated with the Christian Church . Known for its blend of liberal arts and professional programs, Chapman University encompasses seven schools and colleges: Lawrence and Kristina Dodge College of Film and Media...

. On February 20, 1951 he became an umpire in the Southwestern International League, the first black professional umpire. He went on to umpire in the Pacific Coast League
Pacific Coast League
The Pacific Coast League is a minor-league baseball league operating in the Western, Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.The...

 for many years before being hired by the American League in 1961, and on April 1, 1966 he became the first black major league umpire. He was an outfield umpire for the 1967 All-Star
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the "Midsummer Classic", is an annual baseball game between players from the National League and the American League, currently selected by a combination of fans, players, coaches, and managers...

 game, and worked in the 1970 World Series
1970 World Series
-Game 1:Saturday, October 10, 1970 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, OhioThe Jackson 5 performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the game, which almost became an embarrassment when the group realized shortly before their performance that they weren't familiar with the lyrics...

. He remained an umpire until mandatory retirement upon turning 56 in 1970.

He brought a new style to being an umpire. He dressed impeccably, wore jewelry, including flashy cuff links, and exaggerated his calls with gestures. While some observers believed that his race prevented him from working in the majors earlier than he did, others maintained that his flashy style actually delayed his major league debut due to general disdain for umpires to draw attention to themselves.

He can be seen as a contestant on the 17th November 1955 TV edition of You Bet Your Life
You Bet Your Life
You Bet Your Life is an American quiz show that aired on both radio and television. The original and best-known version was hosted by Groucho Marx of the Marx Brothers, with announcer and assistant George Fenneman. The show debuted on ABC Radio in October 1947, then moved to CBS Radio in September...

; Groucho is quite a fan, "I predict you're gonna be in the big leagues inside of another year and you'll be a sensation up there too".

Ashford died of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 at age 65 in Venice
Venice, Los Angeles, California
Venice is a beachfront district on the Westside of Los Angeles, California, United States. It is known for its canals, beaches and circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two-and-a-half mile pedestrian-only promenade that features performers, fortune-tellers, artists, and vendors...

, a suburb of Los Angeles.

External links

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