March 1, 1980 Emmett Littleton Ashford, the first African American umpire in major league baseball, died.
Ashford was born November 23, 1914 in Los Angeles, California.
He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Chapman College and served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946. In 1951, Ashford became the first black professional umpire when he started in the Southwestern International League. He went on to umpire in the Pacific Coast League before being hired by the American League in 1961.
On April 11, 1966, Ashford became the first African American to umpire a major league baseball game. He umpired in the major leagues until mandatory retirement in 1970. His biography, “Strrr-ike!!: Emmett Ashford, Major League Umpire,” was published in 2004.