CINCINNATI — Charles ‘‘Chuck’’ Harmon, the Cincinnati Reds’ first African-American player, died Tuesday. He was 94.
“Chuck Harmon was much more than a ballplayer,” said Reds chief executive Bob Castellini. “He represents a pivot point in Reds history. Chuck’s positive attitude and disposition helped diffuse the adversity he faced, and set the tone for those following in his footsteps.’’
Mr. Harmon had remained a familiar figure in Cincinnati as a participant in fan events. Among his Reds honors is a bronze plaque near their stadium entrance.
A native of Washington, Ind., Mr. Harmon was also a standout basketball player, leading his high school team to back-to-back state titles. He played basketball and baseball at the University of Toledo.
The Navy veteran signed with the St. Louis Browns in 1947, the same year that the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, but he was stymied in the Browns organization despite hitting well in the minors.
Mr. Harmon was traded to the Reds in 1952 and made his first appearance in the big leagues as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning on April 17, 1954, at age 30. A first baseman/third baseman, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1956. He finished his career the next season with the Philadelphia Phillies.