Chuck Harmon greets Joe Morgan as the former Reds are introduced during the opening day of RedsFest at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. Staff photo by Greg Lynch
Photo: Greg Lynch
Photo: Greg Lynch

First African-American to play for Reds dies at 94

"The entire Reds family is saddened to lose one of its great ambassadors. The first African American to play for the Reds, Chuck Harmon was much more than a ballplayer," said Reds Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini in a release. "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. He was beloved by his teammates during his career and remained a treasure to this franchise and its fans throughout his life. He will be missed.”

Harmon, who was born in Washington, Ind., and attended the University of Toledo, debuted for the Reds on April 17, 1954, at 29. This was seven years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"Being the first, I said, 'So I was the first. So what? I'm going to make sure I'm not the last,' " Harmon said in 2007. "That's all I thought about. Being the first? Great. But I watched how I carried myself so I wouldn't negate all the rest of the black ballplayers from getting a chance with the Reds. Don't go out there and act a fool."

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Harmon played three seasons with the Reds, hitting .242 with seven home runs. He said he was treated great in Cincinnati.

"I can't remember any time that I wasn't treated good,” Harmon said. “I can honestly say if I was treated bad, I didn't realize it, or it didn't bother me."

Harmon later played with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. In four seasons, he played in 289 games and hit .238.

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