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Emmett Ashford, The First Black Major League Umpire Was a Member of Kappa Alpha Psi

Did you know that the first Black Major League Umpire Emmett Ashford was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi? Ashford crossed through the Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA.

Ashford was born in Los Angeles, California, and played baseball in high school. His career as an umpire began after being asked to fill in for an umpire in a semi pro game that he was playing in. When Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier, Ashford was serving in the Navy and became inspired him to become the first Black major league umpire.

In true Kappa Alpha Psi fashion, Ashford introduced a new high-energy style of umpiring that included jewelry, cuff links, polished shoes, and pressed suits. This led to many critics saying that his flashy style hindered him from being a good umpire. He received a lot of racial backlash during his career but kept his spirits high and his focus on the game. Ashford worked for the American League from 1966 to 1970 before retiring at 56 years old.

Umpire Ronald M. Luciano calling Minnesota Twin Rod Carew out on first during a play with the Oakland A’s, September 12, 1971.

Ashford passed away due to a heart attack at age 65 in Marina del Rey, California.

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