Black Has Had Uphill Battles Before

September 14, 1948

While Don Black remains unconscious in a hospital bed at St. Vincent Charity Hospital, the fight for his life continues.

Black suffered a brain hemorrhage in the second inning of yesterday’s game between the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns. Blood on his brain and spinal column created the hemorrhage and Black lost consciousness on his way to the hospital. Indians team physician, Dr. Edward Castle, believes Black will make a full recovery, but the time it will take is undetermined.

“At any rate, he is through with baseball for this season,” Castle said last night.

According to Dr. Castle, whether Black ever plays baseball again is questionable at best. Whether Black plays baseball again, however, is secondary to the fight to regain a normal life. He has battled temptation and personal health issues in the past to prolong both his baseball career and life.

Black started his professional career pitching for Fairbury in the Nebraska State League in 1937. He was 5-11 with a 4.85 ERA and was out of baseball until 1941 when he signed with Petersburg of the Virginia League. In a pair of seasons Black won 29 games, including going 18-11 with a 2.49 ERA in 1942. His outstanding work resulted with the Philadelphia Athletics purchasing his contract for the 1943 season.

He had an inconsistent career in three seasons with Philadelphia, compiling a 21-39 record in 4.39 ERA in three seasons. Athletics manager Connie Mack remained patient with Black, but after 1945 he gave up and Cleveland claimed the out-of-shape right-hander for the waiver price. After not impressing early in the season, Black was sent to Milwaukee of the American Association.

After purchasing the team in June 1946, Indians president Bill Veeck gave Black another chance at the big leagues, but only on the condition that he enter Alcoholics Anonymous.

Black was sincere and rectified his life. He was 10-12 with a 3.92 ERA in 30 games last season and culminated his comeback when he no-hit his former club, the Philadelphia Athletics, on July 10.

“Guess I’m in shape now,” Black said after his no-hitter. “I owe it all to the A.A.”

Black continued to get his life in order, moving his wife Joyce and daughters Stevie and Donna from Iowa to their home on the east side of Cleveland. Last winter he worked for the Indians in their offices, selling season tickets.

This season had been a bit of a disappointment, going just 2-2 with a 5.37 ERA in 18 games. His two wins came in the span of five days back in May, but he had given the Tribe five solid innings in his last start on August 29 at Washington. Yesterday, Black had allowed just two hits and struck out three in two innings before collapsing on the field.

Now, Black looks to accomplish the greatest comeback of his life. He’s not just fighting for his baseball career, but his life as a father and husband.


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