After beginning his career in the Negro Leagues, Black won Rookie of the Year honors as a 28-year-old reliever for the 1952 Dodgers. He won 14 in relief and added 15 saves, using a blazing fastball and tight curve.
At season’s end, Dodger manager Chuck Dressen started him twice (a win and a loss) to prepare him for starting the first game of the World Series. Black won 4-2, but then lost two close games (also starts) 2-0 and 4-2. His victory was the only one by a black pitcher in the Series until Mudcat Grant won in 1965.
In spring training the next year, Dressen insisted that Black learn several new pitches. He lost control of the two that had brought him success and was never effective again.