2015 Hall of Fame
Emmett Ashford was a man known for breaking down barriers, specifically, racial barriers. He was also a man that took great pride in such feats, while doing it in superb style. Ashford is known throughout baseball as Major League Baseball?s first African-American umpire.
Born November 23, 1914 in Los Angeles, California. Ashford found success early on throughout his high school career, competing in both baseball and track for Jefferson High School, as well as rising the ranks of the high school newspaper as co-editor for the Jeffersonian. By the time Ashford graduated, he was named the school?s first African-American class president.
Ashford went on to attend both Los Angeles Junior College and Chapman College, where again he played baseball. Eventually, Ashford began a 15-year career with the post-office. However, during the late 1930s, Ashford pursued a brief career as a semi-professional baseball player, spending time with the Mystery Nine. However, as the story goes, an umpire failed to show and Ashford was relegated to the role of emergency umpire. From there, Ashford quickly became busy with umpiring amateur baseball and softball throughout Southern California and eventually, took a leave of absence from the post-office to pursue an opportunity with the Southwestern International League.
Ashford debuted in the American League on April 9, 1966 in Washington, D.C. He was tabbed to work the 1967 All-Star game in Anaheim and the World Series in 1970. While he was scheduled to work the plate in game six of the World Series, the game never materialized, as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Cincinnati Red Sox in five games.
During the 1970s, Ashford was named the Umpire-In-Chief of the Alaskan Baseball League and went on to umpire at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium during the NBC World Series.
“Emmett knew his duties and had a specital innate flair that allowed him to literally prance in life as he did making calls on the field…” NBC Hall of Famer Don Dennis said. “To know him was to love him – no doubt about that.”