Dave Hoskins: First Black Texas Leaguer, 1952.

Dave Hoskins with Dallas Eagles Manager Dutch Meyer, 1952.

Five years after Jackie Robinson broke the major league color line in 1947, Dave Hoskins did the honors for his race in the Texas League as a pitcher for the Dallas Eagles.  Those 1952 Eagles were a great club, finishing in first place under Manager Dutch Meyer with a record of 92-69 before losing to Oklahoma City in a six-game first round playoff series. Hoskins was the prime force for the ’52 Eagles, leading the league with 22 wins and an overall record of 22-10 and an ERA of 2.12.

Those of us in Houston during that era were two years away from the 1954 date that Bob Boyd would step on the field as the first black player to play for the Houston Buffs, but that didn’t stop a handful of us Houston whites and all of the segregated-stand seated Houston blacks from cheering for Hoskins during his first and every appearance at Buff Stadium. The guy threw the ball with such pop and poise. It didn’t take long for Dave Hoskins to establish that he already was too good for the Texas League at age 30.

Dave Hoskins was born in Greenwood, Mississippi on August 3, 1922, but his family moved to Flint, Michigan in 1936 when he was 14. His dad worked in the automobile assembly industry and Hoskins grew up playing baseball in the Flint City League. His averages of .438, .395, .350, and .412 over four seasons drew hard attention from scouts in the Negro League. His first stops in professional baseball landed him with the Ethiopian Clowns, the Homestead Grays, and the Cincinnati Clowns. During his three seasons with the Homestead grays (1944-46), Hoskins batted .345, .351, and .317. He also served as the club’s best pitcher in 1945.

In April 1945, Dave Hoskins, Sam Jethroe, and Jackie Robinson were chosen as Negro Leaguers to be given a joint tryout in a camp sponsored by the Boston Red Sox and Braves. Hoskins ended up missing the tryout due to a game injury.

By 1947, Dave had returned home to star as an outfielder in the Flint City League. As an all-star from that group, Hoskins proceeded to rack up three hits in a game that Flint’s Best played against the Detroit Tigers.

Dave Hoskins: Greatness That Might Have Been.

Dave Hoskins finally rode the wings of some good words by Satchel Paige and signed with the Cleveland Indians as a hard-hitting outfielder. After he signed, however, Hoskins decided to change from hitting to pitching. “I was tired of pitchers throwing at me and made up my mind to throw at other guys,” Hoskins explained. After unspectacular years (1949-51) as a pitcher for Grand Rapids, Dayton, and Wilkes-Barre, Hoskins joined the Dallas Eagles in 1952 for his banner breakout season in organized baseball.

Hoskins made an auspicious start for Cleveland in his first major league appearance in early 1953. Coming into the game early in relief of Bob Feller and trailing 3-0, Hoskins gave up no runs while crashing a double and homer for four RBI that gave him and the Indians the victory. He went on to post a 9-3 record for the Indians in 1953 with an ERA of 3.99 in 26 games.

An unfunny thing happened to Dave Hoskins with the Indians in 1954. Because of the talent-glutted pitching staff among Indian starters that year (Lemon, Garcia, Wynn, Feller, and Houtteman), Dave only hit the mound on 14 occasions in 1954, posting a 0-1 record and a harvest of disappointment.  David Hoskins would continue playing minor league baseball, including a brief stint with the 1959 Houston Buffs, through 1960, but he would not see the major leagues again after the ’54 heartbreaker. He would finish his minor league life with 78 wins, 69 losses, and an ERA of 3.79

After baseball, Dave Hoskins returned to Flint and a second career as an automobile plant worker. He married and raised three daughters before passing away of a heart attack on the job at age 47 on April 2, 1970.

In 1987, Dave Hoskins was inducted into the Greater Flint  Afro-American Hall of Fame. In 2004, Dave Hoskins also found quick, ready, and appropriate induction into the newly created Texas League Hall of Fame.

Dave Hoskins was a great one, but like a lot of Negro Leaguers from that period, his chance came around a little bit on the late side to be of much value to a long career in major league baseball. Dave’s 1952 Texas League record and his 1953 brief run with Cleveland merely hint at those saddest of all words, what might have been.

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14 Responses to “Dave Hoskins: First Black Texas Leaguer, 1952.”

  1. David Munger Says:

    It is sad when it comes to “What might have been.” My Dad told
    me about Barnstorming against The Negro League All Stars. He also
    talked about the Negro players who were his teammates and competitors
    in Winter Ball. It’s a shame you had to go to Cuba or Mexico to play with
    these men and see how good they were.

    It was a speed and power game that the average fan had yet to see.

    Bill, Thanks for another great article.

  2. David Hoskins Says:

    He was my granddad and his career will be greatly missed and Im trying to take right behind his footsteps

    • Barry McMahon Says:

      I’M SIXTY-FOUD YEARS OLD AND HAVE BEEN A BASEBALL FAN FOR MANY YEARS ACTUALLY BEGINNING IN 1956 WHEN THE OAKLAND OAKS FRANCHISE WAS MOVED UP TO VANCOUVER AND BECAME THE VANCOUVER MOUNTIES.

      I REMEMBER DAVE HOSKINS COMING TO VANCOUVER DURING THE MID TO LATE 1950’S. IN 1956 WITH SAN DIEGO PADRES AND IN 1959 WITH THE SPOKANE INDIANS.

      I BELIEVE DAVE WAS MOSTLY A STARTER BUT ALSO WORKED OUT OF THE BULLPEN.

      ONE OF MY BASEBALL CARD HEROES.

      • Lynda Hoskins Says:

        Barry, thank for your words , about my father. Yes he was a very good father and husband. I use to love to watch him play. What joy 🙂

  3. Lynda Denise Hoskins Says:

    I so very proud, of my father, he was a great man and teacher. I miss him so very much. I wish that they would knownledge him more because he was truly an inspiration to The Negro Legue’

    Lynda Denise Hoskins

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Dear Lynda,

      Thank you for writing. I was privileged to have seen your dad, Dave Hoskins, when he came to Houston as a pitcher for the Dallas Eagles of the Texas League back in 1952, Statistically, 1952 was your father’s best year in professional baseball. He finished the season with a record of 22 wins, 10 losses, and E.R.A. of only 2.10. He also gave up fewer than a single hit per inning, yielding only 237 safeties in 280 total innings of work.

      Most importantly, Dave Hoskins was the “Jackie Robinson of the Texas League” in 1952, becoming the first black player to ever play in the previously all-white baseball organization. As a young eye witness to that little chapter in Texas baseball history, all I can tell you is that he did it with style. He did it with talent, And he did it with great class as a human being.

      I share your wish that Dave could be given more recognition by the game for his accomplishments, but I say that in the knowledge that nothing he gets in return will ever be enough to equal his value to my generation as a role model for giving life your best shot with your strongest talent – and for standing up tall for what is right. On those levels, Dave Hoskins was the man.

      • Hunter Harmon Says:

        Mr. McCurdy,
        I am a student at Texas Tech University and I am writing a research paper over this and other topics that you seem to be well educated in. I was hoping to catch a few minutes of your time to ask you some questions via email or phone, whatever may be easiest for you. You can contact me here via reply or at hunter.harmon@ttu.edu

        Thank you for any time you may have to spare for a needy college student

  4. Lynda Hoskins Says:

    Mr. McCurdy,

    Thank you very much. You have truly spoken about my hero’ My Father” . You have truly brought tears to my eyes. I have some trophy baseball’s that my father left. My number is 678-668-6851, I would love to hear more about my father’s life in Texas.

    Lynda Hoskins
    Atlanta,Georgia

    • Greg Varhely Says:

      Hi Linda. My name is Greg Varhely. My dad was Ed Varhely. He played with your dad on the 1952 Dallas team. He was also a pitcher. I have photos, clippings, etc that I would be happy to send you electronically. I have most scanned. I also have a copy of the August 1952 Negro Achievements magazine with your dad on the cover. Again I can scan and sent to you. I am looking for any photos or team memorablilia from that period. Thanks!!! Greg Varhely

  5. Lynda Hoskins Says:

    Greg ,
    I haven’t heard from you in awhile I would love to see some of my dad’s material. And also learn more about your father. You can contact me at ( 678~668~6851). My sister and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I have some autograph balls that I would love to get look at. Maybe you can help me ?

    Thanks
    Lynda Hoskins

    • Hunter Harmon Says:

      HI Lynda,
      My name is Hunter Harmon and I am writing a term paper over your father, Dave Hoskins. I was hoping to ask you a few questions over his life and career and this seemed to be the only way to contact you. Please let me know if this could be possible via email. Contact me at hunter.harmon@ttu.edu

    • Emma Kelley Says:

      Hi Lynda,
      I have Hoskins ancestry in Greenwood, Mississippi,Grenada, Mississippi,Yalobusha, Mississippi, etc. Many of my family have said that your father maybe a family member. He looks a lot like my father did in his youth.
      I did not want to bother you because I have no proof. But, on June 23, 2013 my father pasted away and I have really become curious. He was one of the few people that had any knowledge of the Hoskins family history.
      Many of the my Hoskins family members migrated to MI, IL, OH and CO. We are now finding one another.
      Could you please share with me the names of fathers parents and grandparents. I will also share information with you if you are interested.

      Emma Kelley
      emma kelley@sbcglobal.net

  6. Tito Stevens Says:

    Dear Lynda:
    I came across your father’s name on the roster of the 1946 Homestead Grays which was peppered with names of great Negro League players who are in the baseball HOF. I was actually looking up Bob Thurman and Luis “Canena” Marquez, both of whom starred in the Puerto Rico Winter League which I watched in the 1940s and 1950s and covered for a newspaper there from 1963 to 1983. I just wondered if you might know why either Thurman or Marquez hadn’t talked your dad into playing in P.R. during the winter. With his record of accomplishments he could have augmented his summer salary there where dark-skinned players were the norm and revered. If you would have any information, I would appreciate it. You may e-mail me at tito_stevens@yahoo.com.
    Respectfully,
    Tito Stevens

  7. A Brief Astros Catechism (Plus Stats) | The Pecan Park Eagle Says:

    […] https://bill37mccurdy.com/2010/03/07/dave-hoskins-first-black-texas-leaguer-1952/ […]

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