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Former Padre of the 1940's considered the Jackie Robinson of the Pacific Coast League

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Posted at 8:14 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 23:14:01-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego Padres baseball dates back to the 1930's when the team was apart of the Pacific Coast League.While Ted Williams is the greatest player to wear the PCL Padres uniform, they did have another player who is noted for breaking the league's color barrier.

"There is a long deep rich history of black baseball in San Diego, and maybe the most famous and preeminent figure is Johnny Ritchey," says Dr. David Miller who is a historian for the San Diego History Center.

Johnny Ritchey came to the Padres with local ties, as he was a graduate of San Diego High School, and he played college baseball at San Diego State. During his professional career, Ritchey was quite a successful player.

"There are a lot of historians who say that if he hadn't been black, he would have made it to the major leagues, but even 1948 was a limiting factor."

Ritchey was brought to the Padres to develop his skills and talent, with the hope of moving on to the major leagues

"Ritchey was here from 1848 to 1949 and was actually the first black player, not just with the Padres, but in the Pacific Coast League."

When referring to Ritchey, he was called the Jackie Robinson of the PCL.

"What is interesting is the Pacific Coast League follows right after Robinson and breaks the color line with Johnny Ritchey. Our own San Diegan and hometown hero. The Pacific Coast League, and the Padres for that matter, integrated a lot faster than Major League Baseball."

Anyone familiar with the Pacific Coast League Padres is aware that Ted Williams played for the team in 1936 and 1037. And while Williams went on to become a Hall-of-Fame Player, Dr.Miller feels Ritchey deserves a lot of attention for the barriers he overcame in the PCL.

"To have now, it's common practice, a very integrated, multi cultural, and multi racial San Diego Padre team. Those kinds of things happened because of guys like Ritchey took the abuse."