As the MLB season continues, the league recently witnessed a historic moment. On Wednesday, Cincinnati Reds catcher Chuckie Robinson made his major league debut, which was special in its own right, but there is more to it. Robinson (whose father and grandfather played in the minor leagues) is the MLB’s first black catcher since 2018-2019.
Earlier this month, the Reds called up Robinson to their roster. He was originally selected by the Houston Astros in the 21st round of the 2016 MLB Draft. The Astros assigned him to the Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League. Then, he continued to play in the minor leagues, including their Double-A Astros affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks. The Reds selected Robinson in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft minor league phase and spent time with Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts and Triple-A Louisville Bats. And in the minor leagues, he is hitting a combined .263/.318/.403 in 201 plate appearances this season. And on Wednesday, Robinson was 1-for-2 in his Major League Debut.
Black catchers like four-time Golden Glove award winner Charles Johnson and Roy Campanella have played in the past, but it is rare (especially in today’s game) to see black catchers in the MLB.
Russell Martin (who is Black Canadian) last played in 2019. He played for the Dodgers after the Toronto Blue Jays traded him to L.A for Ronny Brito and Andrew Sopko. Martin also announced his retirement in May.
Bruce Maxwell (who was the first MLB player to kneel during the national anthem) last played in 2018. Robinson made history on Wednesday and with that in mind, he is looking to keep that going.
“I was a late Draft pick, always against the odds. I always try to keep that chip on my shoulder,” said Robinson, “It kind of adds fuel. I know I am representing a lot of people out there. I like being in the position I am in.”