04 OC dave hoskinsNot that we should pat ourselves on the back about it. It did, after all, come five years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

But the Dallas Rangers was the first team in the South to integrate baseball. That team was part of the 50 years of minor league baseball played at Burnett Field in Oak Cliff.

Today, April 15, is Jackie Robinson Day. No. 42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers took the field for the first time 68 years ago.

Dave Hoskins, a right-handed pitcher from Greenwood, Miss., first took the Burnett Field mound for the Dallas Rangers of the Texas League on April 4, 1952. It was an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox that resulted in a 1-1 tie when the game ended after five innings due to rain.

The Dallas Rangers were a farm team for the Cleveland Indians. The team owner, Dick Burnett, told Cleveland “he was willing to use Negro players in his class AA Texas League,” according to a news story from January 1952. Burnett told the Associated Press that the new Dallas professional football team had players of color, and that “baseball must meet the competition.”

The fans loved Dave Hoskins.

He won 22 games in 1952 and batted .328. The Indians called him up for 1953, and he played two seasons there as a reliever. Hoskins has a career 9-4 win-loss record with a 3.81 ERA in the majors. He came back down to the minor leagues and wound up with the Rangers again in 1958, when he won 17 games.

Eventually he retired from baseball and moved to Flint, Mich., where he drove a cab. On April 2, 1970, he had a massive hart attack on the job and died.

It is unlikely that Dave Hoskins loved racist 1950s Dallas. But he was one of the most popular players ever to play for the Dallas Rangers. For a couple of summers, Dallas baseball fans loved Dave Hoskins.