Athletics' History: Breaking the Color Barrier

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, we delve into the history books to learn about the men who broke the color barrier in the Athletics' clubhouse.

Robert Lee Trice was born in Newton, GA on August 28, 1926. The rangy righthander was a pitcher for the Homestead Grays of the Negro Leagues before catching the eye of the Philadelphia A's management. He was signed in 1953 and it wasn't long before he made history at the big league level.

On September 13, 1953, Bob Trice made his major league debut for the Philadelphia Athletics. In doing so, he became the first African-American to play for the Philadelphia A's. He would make three starts for the A's that season, posting a 2-1 record with a 5.43 ERA and one complete game.

Trice made 19 more appearances in 1954 for the A's, but struggled to find consistent success. Trice compiled a 7-8 record with a 5.60 ERA. He had one complete game shutout. Trice requested that the A's send him back to the minor leagues so that he could try to regain his form. The A's acceded to his request, but he was never able to get his game back on track. He would make only four major league appearances in 1955 and wouldn't appear in the major leagues again after that. He finished his career with a lifetime record of 9-9.

While Trice's pitching record may not have been stellar, he did contribute with his bat. Trice was an unusually good hitting pitcher, as he compiled a lifetime .281 batting average with a .351 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage. He had one career homerun. Trice passed away on September 16, 1988 at the age of 62.

Vic Power joined the team in a trade in December 1953. Power was black and a native Puerto Rican and became the first A's star player of color. He roomed with Trice during the 1954 season.

Power was born Victor Felipe Pellot in Arecibo, Puerto Rico on November 1, 1927. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1950. He excelled in the minor leagues for the Yankees, but New York chose not to promote him to the major leagues. Instead, they sent him to the Philadelphia Athletics in late 1953.

Power began his major league career primarily as an outfielder in 1954, but by 1955, he had made the position switch to first base. The position switch suited him well, as Power quickly became one of the premier defensive first basemen of his era. During the 1955 season, he became the first major league first baseman to catch a ball with one hand. He would later on go to win seven straight Gold Glove awards from 1958 to 1964 and he finished his career with a .994 fielding percentage.

The slick-fielding first baseman was not just a good defender. He was also one of the A's best hitters during his four and a half seasons with the team. He hit over .300 during his second and third seasons with the A's and made the All-Star team both seasons.

However, injuries curtailed his success in 1957 and Power was traded to the Cleveland Indians mid-season 1958 in a deal that brought Roger Maris to the Athletics. He would go on to play for the Indians, Twins, Phillies and Angels. Power finished his 12-year major league career a .284 hitter with 126 homeruns. He was a five-time All-Star.

We at salute these brave men for their contributions to the Athletics' franchise and to Major League Baseball.

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