On this day back in 1954 the Washington Senators played a black ballplayer for the first time. His name was Carlos Paula and he was from Havana, Cuba. The 6’3″ 26 year-old Paula was a right-handed hitter and started in left field for the Senators seven years after Jackie Robinson made his Major League debut. Only the Yankees in 1955, the Phillies in 1957, the Tigers in 1958 and the Red Sox in 1959 broke the color-line later than did the Senators/Twins franchise.
Carlos Paula was acquired by the Washington Senators prior to the 1954 season from Paris, Texas of the class “B” Big State league. Paula spent most of the 1954 season in class “A” Charlotte before being called up by the Senators late in the season. In his first big league game, Paula started in left field in the first game of a double-header at Griffith Stadium against the Philadelphia Athletics and struck out in his first at bat but finished the game 2 for 5 (double and a single) with 2 RBI’s and helped his team to an 8-1 win. Paula played in 115 games for the Washington Senators in 1955 and hit .299 with 6 home runs and had 45 RBI’s while stealing 2 bases. Carlos got off to a slow start in 1956 and with Jim Lemon having a breakout year and the addition of rookie center fielder Whitey Herzog, there was no room for the struggling Paula in the Senators’ outfield and after 33 games the Senators sent him to the minors and Paula never again played in a big league game. Paula spent 1957-1960 in the minors playing for various organizations before ending his career in Mexico in 1960. One of his minor league stops was with the Minneapolis Millers in 1957 where he played in 104 games. Carlos Paula passed away on April 25, 1983 in Miami, Florida at the age of 55.
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