Ninety years ago today, Jehosie "Jay" Heard was born in Athens, GA. Sadly, he passed away in 1999, but in his life he made his mark on the baseball world. On April 24, 1954, he made his major league debut, becoming the first black pitcher in Orioles history.
The 34-year-old rookie had an unconventional path to the major leagues, never having played or even seen a game of baseball until he served in the Army during World War II. However, he was a quick study, joining the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues in 1948 and winning a league championship. In 1952, he was a 20-game winner for Victoria of the Western International League. The following year, he won 16 games for the Portland Beavers in the Pacific Coast League, which brought him to Baltimore.
Jay's entire big league career consisted of a pair of relief appearances for the O's in 1954, but he worked hard to get even that far and should be celebrated today.