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Former White Sox player Sam Hairston dies

November 4, 1997

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ Sam Hairston, the first black to play for the Chicago White Sox, was remembered Monday as someone with a wealth of experience and knowledge about the game.

Hairston, who spent 48 seasons with the White Sox as a player, coach and scout, died Friday in Birmingham. He was 77.

``Sam Hairston will be missed, not just by everyone in the White Sox organization, but by everyone associated with the game of baseball,″ said White Sox co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf. ``In addition to being a tremendous baseball player with a wealth of experience and knowledge about the game, Sam was a great person. He left a lasting impression on everyone he met over his 53 seasons in the game.″

The catcher was the first American-born black to play for the White Sox. He signed with the organization in 1950 and made his major league debut on July 21, 1951. He appeared in only four games with the Sox, batting .400 with one RBI.

Hairston spent the last 12 seasons as a coach for the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League. The city held a ``Sam Hairston Day″ in 1996 and named a sports park complex in his honor.

Hairston broke into baseball in 1945 with the Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League. He won the league’s Triple Crown in 1950, batting .424 with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs.

In 1955, Hairston led the Western League with a .350 average at Colorado Springs. His uniform number was retired by the Colorado Springs in 1993.

Hairston is survived by his wife, Dora, three sons and 10 grandchildren. His sons Jerry, John and Sam Jr. all played professional baseball, with Jerry and John reaching the major leagues.

Four of his grandsons have spent time in the minor leagues, including Jason, who is currently in the Atlanta Braves organization, and Jerry Jr., who is in the Baltimore Orioles organization.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday at the Ensley Jehovah Witness Church in Birmingham. Burial will be at Elmwood Cemetery.

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