PLAINFIELD — Joe Black wasn’t just a baseball pioneer. While playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he roomed with Jackie Robinson, he did become the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game and was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1952.
However, after a short stint in the majors, Black returned to his hometown of Plainfield, turning down many higher-paying job offers, to become a high school physical education teacher. Beyond his teaching years at Hubbard Junior High School, Black would go on to leave a lasting impression on all he met, encouraging family, friends and acquaintances to live a life of selflessness, civility and acceptance.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, Black’s legacy will be honored posthumously when the Hub Stine Field in Plainfield will be renamed the Joe Black Baseball Field at Hub Stine Sports Complex during a dedication ceremony. In attendance will be members of Black’s family, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, and author of the new book “Meet the Real Joe Black,” Steven Michael Selzer. The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
Selzer, who knew Black as his teacher, mentor and friend for 42 years, will hold a book signing in addition to speaking at the event.
Selzer first met Joe Black when he entered junior high school. “Mr. Black wasn’t just a teacher of health and physical education,” says Selzer. “What he truly taught was character education. Being responsible. Being reliable. Acting with civility. He carried these hallmarks beyond teaching to every aspect of his life and to those he met along the way. Most people who knew Joe Black would say he was a person of great integrity who could be counted on to do the right thing in any situation.”
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