Earl Wilson

The first black player signed by the Red Sox, Earl Wilson might have been the first to integrate the Boston club had his career not been delayed by military service in 1956-57. Pumpsie Green beat him to Boston in 1959. Originally a catcher, Wilson threw hard, and switched to pitching in 1953, his first pro season. He reached the majors late in 1959, but did not stick until 1962. That June 26, he no-hit the Angels at Fenway Park. In 1963, he walked a league-high 105 batters and tied an American League record with 21 wild pitches. Though his control improved, he was traded to Detroit on June 14, 1966, in the midst of his fourth straight mediocre season. Just 5-5 when traded, Wilson caught fire with the Tigers, going 13-6 the rest of the way. He earned a spot on TSN’s AL All-Star team that year, and again in 1967, when he tied Jim Lonborg for the league lead with 22 wins. A power pitcher averaging better than six strikeouts per nine innings, he was also one of baseball’s greatest power-hitting pitchers. He hit 35 home runs in just 740 at-bats, including two in one game August 16, 1965, and seven in a season twice, a feat surpassed only by Wes Ferrell.