September 18, 2002

Major League Baseball Press Release

09/18/2002 2:28 pm ET
Arizona Fall League MVP award to be named after Joe Black

Major League Baseball announced today that the Arizona Fall League has created a Most Valuable Player Award in honor of the late Joe Black.
During pre-game ceremonies prior to the Arizona Fall League Championship Game on Saturday, Nov. 23, at Scottsdale Stadium, the first-ever Joe Black Trophy, sponsored by Baseball America, will be presented to the 2002 Most Valuable Player. The award will be based on voting by all 2002 AFL managers and coaches.

"Naming this award after Joe Black is a fitting tribute to one of the game’s great pioneers," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, senior vice president, baseball operations for Major League Baseball. "Joe made so many lasting contributions to baseball, on and off the field. The Arizona Fall League is an integral part of player development for the clubs. This award ensures that Joe’s legacy will honor the future of the game that continues to be established in the AFL."

Black, who holds the distinction of being the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game (1952), was selected the 1952 National League Rookie-of-the-Year. After beginning his career in the Negro Leagues, Black dominated the National League with a blazing fastball and a sharp curve. He won 14 games in relief and added 15 saves in his rookie campaign.

Overall, Black pitched for the Dodgers, Reds and Senators in his six-year Major League career, going 30-12 with a 3.91 ERA.

A long-time resident of Phoenix, AZ, Black passed away on May 17, 2002.

"Joe was a strong supporter of the Arizona Fall League since its inception," said Steve Cobb, director of the Arizona Fall League. "He believed in the league’s mission and attended many games. Naming our MVP award after him is an appropriate tribute."

Beginning its 11th season, the Arizona Fall League was created to serve as a domestic "finishing school" for each organization’s top prospects. Since its inception, over 60 percent of the players assigned to the league have reached the Major Leagues.

Owned and operated by Major League Baseball, the AFL is scheduled to open on Oct. 1 and continue through Nov. 23, 2002.