Steve Krah
Steve Krah
Baseball has been sports reporter Steve Krah's passion since childhood. In Season Tickets, there will be plenty of stories from the diamond, but that's not all. Look for stories about athletic happenings and personalties of all kinds.

Other Stories by Steve Krah
Reporter Steve Krah covers sports for the Elkhart Truth.

Martha Jo Black remembers her father as more than a baseball pioneer

‘Joe Black: More Than a Dodger’ is due out Feb. 1, 2015.

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 4:02 p.m.

Martha Jo Black is proud of what her father accomplished on the baseball field.

As a right-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Joe Black was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1952 and the first African-American to win a World Series game (also in 1952).

A teammate of Jackie Robinson and other great players, Joe Black appears prominently in Roger Kahn's classic book, "The Boys of Summer."

Joe Black wrote a syndicated column, "By The Way," for Ebony magazine and an autobiography, "Ain't Nobody Better Than You."

The Arizona Fall League's MVP award bears Black's name. The Washington Nationals established the Joe Black Award that goes to a Washington area organization for its work in promoting baseball in African-American communities.

Joe Black played in the Negro Leagues for the Baltimore Elite Giants and toed the rubber in the major for five seasons — first with Brooklyn and then Cincinnati and Washington. He was the first African-American to play with the Senators (1957).

Along the way, he endured segregation, verbal harassment and even death threats.

After his playing days, he became a teacher and then an executive and served as a player consultant for the baseball commissioner's office, a Baseball Assistance Team board member and community relations for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But Martha Jo is even more gratified at the man and the parent he was and she wants the world to know about it.

"My father and I were very, very close," says Martha Jo. "You remember the song, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (as performed by Roberta Flack)? That was our song."

Joe Black died of prostate cancer in 2002.

So with the help of co-author Chuck Schoffner and the input from Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and others, Martha Jo wrote "Joe Black: More Than a Dodger." It’s due out Feb. 1, 2015, from Chicago Review Press.

Martha Jo, a Chicago native who works for Reinsdorf as the coordinator of fan experiences for the White Sox, tells the story of how her father was an old-school disciplinarian who instilled work ethic, respect and loyalty in his daughter.

"My father taught me to be good to people," says Martha Jo. "(In my current job,) I want to make Jerry (Reinsdorf) proud. That's my father's friend and I'm not going to embarrass any of my father's friends."

Even from a young age, when Martha Jo's parents split up and she went to live with her father in Arizona, Joe insisted the two have dinner together each night, with Joe writing speeches for his job a vice president at Greyhound and Martha doing her homework.

"The reason I did this biography is not only about baseball, but that men don't get a good reputation of being parents and they should," says Martha Jo. "My father did everything for me."

As she was growing up, Joe made sure Martha Jo knew more than her immediate surroundings.

"Arizona did not have any black history," says Martha Jo. "It was the last state to have the Martin Luther King holiday. But my dad made sure I went back east a lot."

Joe Black earned a degree a Morgan State University and became a teacher after his playing days.

"He was all about education," says Martha Jo. "He'd tell players they needed to have something to fall back on."

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