Sam Jethroe (January 23, 1917 - June 16, 2001) was a center fielder in the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball. Jethroe was a switch-hitter and threw right handed. He was one of the first black baseball players in the major leagues and the oldest player to win Rookie of the Year honors.
Nicknamed "The Jet", for his stunning speed, Jethroe was born in East St. Louis, Illinois. Between 1943 and 1948, he played for the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League, leading the hitters in batting average twice and stolen bases three times.
In 1945, Jethroe was one of three black players to tryout for the Boston Red Sox. He was turned away, along with Marvin Williams and Jackie Robinson. From 1948-49 he played for Montreal in the International League, leading the league with 89 stolen bases in 1949.
On April 18, 1950, Jethroe became the first black player on the Boston Braves roster. He was named rookie of the year that season at 32 of age, after hit a .273 average with 18 home runs and 58 RBI. His 35 stolen bases topped the National League.
Jethroe enjoyed his best season in 1951, when he posted career-highs in average (.280), RBI (65), hits (160), doubles (29), triples (10) and matched his 18 homers. He also repeated his 35 steals, once again to lead the league, but In 1952 Jethroe slumped badly, hitting .232, and reportedly had vision trouble.
Jethroe spent 1953 in Triple-A Toledo, batting .307. Before the 1954 season he was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played his final majors game on April 15, 1954. After that, he spent the next five seasons at Toronto in the International League. Despite being amongst the league leaders in hits, runs and stolen bases during that span, he never got another chance in the majors.
In a four-season career, Jethroe was a .261 hitter with 49 home runs, 181 RBI and 98 stolen bases in 442 games.
After his baseball career ended, Jethroe settled in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he worked in a local factory for several years, then opened a bar. He died at age of 84.