Robert Richard Boyd
Nicknames: Bob, The Rope
Teams: Memphis Red Sox (1946-1950), minor leagues (1950-1955, 1962-1964), major leagues (1951, 1953-1954, 1956-1961)
Height: 5' 9'' Weight: 168
Born: October 1, 1926, Potts Camp, Mississippi
Died: September 7, 2004, Wichita, Kansas
During his four full years in the Negro American League, he registered averages of .339, .376, .375, and .356, for a career average of .362. He began his career as a walk-on with the Memphis Red Sox and was quickly signed, farmed out, and then recalled. During his first full season (1947) he was batting .340 at the All Star break and demonstrated good speed and a good glove in the field. The following season he finished with 9 triples, the second-highest in the league, and was selected to start for the West squad in the East-West All Star game, responding with two hits in the contest. In 1949 the Sox star repeated as the West's starting first baseman in the All Star game.
He was the first black signed by the White Sox, and in 1950 he split the season between the Negro American League and Colorado Springs in the Western League, where he hit .373. In 1951, with Sacramento, he led the Pacific Coast League with 41 stolen bases while hitting .342 to earn a trial with the White Sox, but he was sent back down and, playing with Seattle in 1952, he led the Pacific Coast League in batting with a .320 average.
He was thirty years old when he finally made it to the major leagues to stay, and once there, his frozen line drives earned him the nickname "The Rope." During his nine-year major league career he compiled a lifetime .293 average. His best year came in 1957, when he hit .318, as the first Oriole regular player to hit .300. This was sandwiched between two other .300 seasons (the first was as a part-time starter) that he enjoyed for the Baltimore Orioles.
He also rang up some impressive seasons in Latin America, batting .374 with Ponce in Puerto Rico (1951-1952) and .305 with Cienfuegos in Cuba (1954-1955) and finishing with a lifetime Cuban batting average of .300.
Boyd finished his career in the majors in 1961, splitting his playing time between the two leagues, with Kansas City (American League) and Milwaukee (National League). Always able to swing an impressive bat, he played three more seasons in the high minors, compiling impressive credentials. He hit .326 in 1962 while playing in AAA ball with Louisville (American Association) and Oklahoma City (Pacific Coast League). Then he followed with a .336 average in the Texas League. Finally his bat lost its sting, and in 1964 he finished his career as a pinch hitter with Oklahoma City, without a hit in nine games.
Baseball Career Highlights:
Boyd began his professional baseball career as a walk-on for the Negro Leagues' Memphis Red Sox. He recalled traveling and living on buses. Because of segregation and racial prejudice, he and his teammates had to sleep and change their clothes on the bus as well.
In 1950, Boyd was the first black player to be signed by the Chicago White Sox and the fifth to be signed in the Major League. During his 22-year career, Boyd was an accomplished hitter, who averaged over .300 for thirteen of those years. He finished second to Mickey Mantle for the 1957 batting title.
Awards, Honors, Titles, Championships,
• Negro Hall of Fame (Member)
• Kansas Hall of Fame
NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.
James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.