NEWARK — As the Newark Bears’ season comes to a close, the club has announced that it will honor Osibee Jelks—one of baseball’s earliest African American umpires—prior to its season finale on Sept. 3.
Jelks began his career in the minor leagues in the 1950s, working in the Class D New York-Penn League and making his way up to the Pacific Coast League, earning praise for his ability at every stop along the way.
When Emmett Ashford became the first black umpire to work a Major League Baseball game in 1966, Jelks was the only other African American umpire in organized baseball. Despite only being in his 30s and just one step away from the major leagues at Triple-A in 1968, Jelks retired following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, after years of being overlooked by National League President Warren Giles.
The Bears will also welcome Pastor Ronald Slaughter and guests from the St. James AME Church in Newark to Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium for the team’s final game.
Newark will take on the Worcester Tornadoes at 6:35 p.m. on Sept. 3.