The online world again declared July 21 to be Pumpsie Green Day, commemorating the man who, by chance, became the first African American baseball player to take the field for the Boston Red Sox 55 years ago.

The unofficial day has been noted for the past four years by writer Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports, who this week posted that "We celebrate April 15 as Jackie Robinson day for obvious reasons. I feel like we should celebrate July 21 as Pumpsie Green Day. For on that day in 1959, Green became the last guy to become the first African American to play for a team in the majors."

Green grew up in Richmond and was a star athlete at El Cerrito High School, where he was a member of the 1951 Gaucho baseball team, the school's first to win a conference championship. The color barrier in Major League Baseball had been broken by Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, but some teams remained unintegrated for years after. The Red Sox, under increasing pressure from civil rights organizations and the media, were the final team to integrate and Green was the player who was put at the center of attention.

"The reason -- unless you happen to think that when they scouted Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays they simply didn't see baseball talent there -- is pretty much the team's undeniable legacy of racial intolerance," Calcaterra wrote this week.


Advertisement

The current ownership of the Red Sox has embraced Green's pioneering role. They have honored him at events at Fenway Park and also helped commemorate him in the town where he played baseball in high school, making a donation that helped build the batting cage at the Cerrito Vista Park ball field two years ago.

The Society for American Baseball Research has an excellent biography about Green, who still lives in El Cerrito, and the trials he went through coming into the big leagues at sabr.org/bioproj/person/f9472d8a.

Kite festival this weekend: The 29th annual Berkeley Kite Festival and West Coast Kite Championships returns to Cesar E. Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 26 and 27.

The free admission event is hosted by Highline Kites of Berkeley, which expects more than 30,000 people to turn out to see the colorful kites of all types and sizes dance in the sky along the shoreline.

There will also be free kite making and flying instruction, a candy drop for children, demonstrations, entertainment and food vendors. Specialized kite groups from as far away as New Zealand and Japan will also be participating.

Parking at the Marina and the overflow lot at Golden Gate Fields is $15 and free shuttles will run from GGF to the festival.

Details: 510-235-5483 or www.highlinekites.com.

RELAY FOR LIFE: The annual El Cerrito Relay For Life starts at 10 a.m. July 26 on the track at Cerrito Vista Park at Pomona Avenue and Moeser Lane and goes for 24 hours.

The fundraiser for American Cancer Society research and programs celebrates the lives of those who have battled the disease and those it has claimed. Cancer survivors walk the first lap.

Walkers circle the track relay-style, there is entertainment all day and a Luminaria Ceremony at 8:30 p.m.

There were 144 participants registered to walk, but more are welcome, as are volunteers. For more details visit www.relayforlife.org/elcerritoca.

WEST COUNTY NOTES: Rebecca Newburn, co-founder of the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, will lead a class in advanced seed saving techniques at 7 p.m. July 29 in the Community Room of the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza.

The session on how to save seeds from squash, cucumbers and some other plants that cross-pollinate is free but advance registration is required. To register or get more details visit www.richmondgrowsseeds.org.

  • Nominations are being accepted through July 31 for the Sustainability and Green Building Awards in Contra Costa County. Individuals, nonprofit groups, government programs, schools and businesses are eligible to be recognized for their work. For more details visit www.SustainableCoCo.org/awards.

  • Local favorites The Rubinoos, the Berkeley band formed in the 1970s by Tommy Dunbar and Jon Rubin, performs at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Todos Santos Plaza, at Willow Pass Road and Grant Street in Concord. Details: www.concordfirst.org.

  • The 1960s San Francisco rock band Sopwith Camel is back with three of its original members for a show at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. Details: 510-472-3170.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.