That is, Pumpsie was the first black player on the last major league baseball team to be integrated, the Boston Red Sox. By the time Pumpsie made his debut in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Robinson had already been retired for a couple of years. After a short baseball career, Green later went on to become a baseball coach at Berkeley High School. In these excerpts Pumpsie describes what it was like to be the last first black baseball player:
There was now more media pressure than ever. I was trying to make it as a player and as the first black man on the Red Sox. I had no roommate. It never crossed my mind to have a roommate, since I was the only black on the team. It wasn’t a rule. It wasn’t a law. But it was unwritten that blacks did not room with whites.
The Red Sox got me a room in a hotel. I didn’t even know if I had to pay for it or not. I got to meet Mr. Yawkey the second day that I was in Boston. He was a very gentle, short, round man. He told me why he called me up, said he wanted to get to know me, and wished me well. “If you run into any problems or need any advice on something, you don’t have to go to the coaches or manager. Come directly to me,” he said. I thanked him, and we shook hands.
The first night I got to Fenway there was such a crowd, the park was full. A lot of blacks wanted to come to the game. They didn’t have a seat, but they were accommodated. The Red Sox roped off a corner part of centerfield. The whole thing made me feel special, but it made my blood pressure go up, too. “I can’t fail. I can’t make a mistake.” That was how I felt.
When I first got to Boston, I got in touch with guys from the University of San Francisco — Bill Russell and KC Jones, who were stars on the Boston Celtics. Russ would take me around and talk to me. He told me where I should and shouldn’t go.
The reception in Boston was good. It was just like anyplace else. If you are doing a good job, you get the “Yea.” If you are not up to snuff, you can get the “Nay.” ...
There were overtones of racial things. These overtones could be heard not only at Fenway but at any other ballpark. Sometimes terrible things would be yelled out, racial epithets. Some people said I must have felt like killing somebody. But I never did. I got where I could divorce it from my mind, cut it off. I told people I had enough troubles trying to hit the curveball. I wasn’t going to worry about some loudmouths.