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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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This date in Knights history

Posted 07-04-2009 at 11:10 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 10-21-2009 at 08:08 PM by TommyJohn

July 4, 1950-Pitcher Danny Wilson becomes the second black player and first black pitcher in New Orleans Knight history when he debuts in the first game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies before a packed house of 54,955 at Brennan Park, one of the largest crowds in the stadium's history.

Wilson's contract had been purchased by Jeremiah Brennan from the Birmingham Black Barons for $50,000. He had been playing in th minors, with the plan to call him up in 1951. An injury to starter Jay Allen bumped up the timetable.

The large crowd wasn't as hostile as the Opening Day crowd that had greeted Al Montgomery, but there was some tension nevertheless. At this time, the liberal Brennan was enforcing segregation in the stands (blacks were relegated to the outfield seats for their "protection") so there were no interracial clashes. The black fans were again on their best behavior. (NOTE: Brennan ended segregation in the ballpark before the 1954 season.)

Wilson whose tall, rangy physique and long limbs called to mind Satchel Paige, debuted with a bang. The first major league pitch he threw, to Eddie Waitkus of the Phils, was lined right back at him. Wilson shot his glove up and speared the ball for the out.

The game was a pitcher's duel between him and Robin Roberts. Knight Hall of Fame shortstop Earl Johnson drove in the first run with a double in the 6th to score Al Montgomery. The Phillies tied game in the 8th.

The game was knotted 1-1 in the 10th when Roberts laid a bunt down. Wilson scooped it up but slipped attempting to make the play. Two groundouts moved him to third before Bill Nicholson smashed a line shot home run into the left field seats for a 3-1 lead that stood up.

Wilson lost that first game, but it was one of few. He would wrap up the season 11-3 with an era of 2.34.
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