Baseball quiz: A lesson in Black history

Test your knowledge of the national pastime and hopefully learn a few things along the way.

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Jackie Robinson grounds ball at first base, 1950s.

Jackie Robinson fields a grounder while warming up for a game at Ebbets Field in the 1950s.

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In one of my many previous careers, I was a teacher. And while I don’t do it professionally any longer, one of the things I love about our weekly quizzes is the interactive nature of them. I enjoy the sharing and teaching of interesting current and historical things related to baseball.

So with that in mind, welcome to the Black History Month edition of the quiz.

As I said to my children every day as they headed to school: ‘‘Have fun and learn a lot.’’

1. On April 6, 1971, Ferguson Jenkins and Bob Gibson faced off on Opening Day at Wrigley Field. Jenkins won when Billy Williams hit a walk-off home run against Gibson to give the Cubs a 2-1 victory against the Cardinals. There are three members of the Hall of Fame who have played for the Harlem Globetrotters: Jenkins, Gibby and who else?

a. Willie Mays

b. Lou Brock

c. Frank Robinson

d. Roy Campanella

2. Vic Janowicz, the 1950 Heisman Trophy winner, played two seasons with the Pirates before returning to football. He is one of only two former Heisman Trophy winners to appear in a major-league game. The other was:

a. Deion Sanders

b. Bo Jackson

c. Jackie Robinson

d. Brian Jordan

3. The Chicago American Giants were one of the key teams in the Negro National League and the Negro American League from 1920 to 1948. They were managed by the man known as the ‘‘Father of Black Baseball.’’ Who was he?

a. Rube Foster

b. Rube Waddell

c. Rube Kaplan

d. Rube Walker

4. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first major-league game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first modern Black player. Which was the last team in the majors to have a Black player?

a. White Sox

b. Cubs

c. Red Sox

d. Yankees

5. On April 11, 1966, Emmett Ashford made history. What role did he play as the Indians beat the Senators?

a. He was the first Black public-address announcer.

b. He was the first Black play-by-play announcer.

c. He was the first Black third-base coach.

d. He was the first Black umpire.

6. Willie Stargell was just one of those players you enjoyed, whether you were a Pirates fan or not. His real first name was Wilver, but his nickname was . . .

a. Gramps

b. Big Daddy

c. Pops

d. Bucco 

7. Who was the first Black ballplayer to win consecutive MVP awards?

a. Ernie Banks

b. Roy Campanella

c. Larry Doby 

d. Jackie Robinson

8. Who was the first Black pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the majors?

a. Don Newcombe

b. Sam Jones

c. Satchel Paige 

d. Bob Gibson

9. On April 15, 1947, more than the baseball world changed as Jackie Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, who defeated the Boston Braves 5-3 at Ebbets Field. Jackie went 0-for-3 in that first game. He batted second and played what position?

a. First base

b. Second base

c. Third base 

d. Shortstop


1. Lou Brock. The Globetrotters did not trade him to the Washington Generals. 

2. Bo Jackson was the only professional athlete in history to be named an All-Star in baseball and football. 

3. Rube Foster was a great pitcher and a great manager and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981. 

4. On July 21, 1959, Pumpsie Green became the first Black player to appear in a Red Sox uniform. 

5. Nicknamed ‘‘Ash,’’ Emmett Ashford was the first Black umpire in the majors, working in the American League from 1966 to 1970. 

6. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988, Willie Stargell was known lovingly as ‘‘Pops,’’ which is what my grandkids call me. 

7. In 1958 and in 1959, Ernie Banks won back-to-back MVPs despite the Cubs finishing fifth each season. 

8. On May 12, 1955, while pitching for the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Sam Jones no-hit the Pirates in a 4-0 victory. He walked seven and struck out six. The Cubbies had 15 hits and were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position. 

9. Jackie Robinson played first base that day. In his career, he played 191 games at first, 741 games at second, 1,006 games at third, one at short, 141 in left field and one in right field.

Be healthy, stay warm and be kind. I love your emails. You can reach me at or on Twitter @BillyBall.

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