Negro Umpire Signed by PCL For 1954 Year
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 16 — Emmett Ashford, first Negro umpire in professional baseball, has been acquired by the Pacific Coast League for the 1954 season, league president Clarence Rowland announced today.
Ashford's contract was purchased from the Western-International League. Although he umpired for many years in semi-pro ranks, 1953 was only Ashford's fourth season in organized baseball. He served in the Sunset and Western International leagues.
The new umpire was not an unfamiliar figure in southern California, having worked Coast League exhibition games in past seasons. Ashford, who calls balls and strikes in a booming voice and uses dramatic gestures in calling plays, proved a colorful figure at the games he worked.
Rowland also announced the retirement of veteran umpire Bill Doran, while Roman Benz announced he planned to leave umpiring to enter private business. Don Silva, another umpire, was given his release so he could enter into negotiations for a Midwest assignment.