|Played for Philadelphia Athletics (1954), Kansas City Athletics (1955-1958), Cleveland Indians (1958-1961), Minnesota Twins (1962-1964), Los Angeles Angels (1964), Philadelphia Phillies (1964), California Angels (1965)
All-Star 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960
Gold Gloves 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964
Power's flamboyant style of playing first base has usually been cited as why the Yankees, endeavoring to break their color line as quietly as possible, traded him to Kansas City in 1954. In fact, there is just as much evidence that the main problem New York had with him was that he was simply good enough to make the team -- a concession the club wasn't about to make during the Bronx regime of George Weiss. Either way, the Power deal was the only one of dozens between the clubs in the 1950s that benefited the Athletics more than New York. As deft as he was flashy, the Puerto Rican native ended up collecting seven Gold Gloves and leading first basemen in fielding three times. No slouch with a bat, either, Power batted over .300 three times and concluded a 12-year run at .284. While with Cleveland on August 14, 1958, he stole home twice in a game -- the only time that has been accomplished since Walter Gautreau did it for the Braves in 1927. For sure, he had the element of surprise working for him since he stole only one other base that season and never more than nine in a season.
--Dewey & Acocella
The Biographical History of Baseball
"I went to my first major league spring training when I joined Philadelphia in Florida. I knew something was strange when the white players checked into thje hotel near the ballpark while Bob Trice and I were sent to the "colored section." It was 2 miles away and we'd have to walk both ways because we couldn't take taxis. When we got to the park we discovered we weren't allowed to drink the cold water in the dugouts but had to drink warm water from a fountain behind the centerfield billboard. And we couldn't use the same bathroom as the white players. No one warned me about segregation in the South. No one told me why black players couldn't openly date light-skinned women, or stay in the same hotel as white players, or eat in the same restaurants. I learned English by reading on the team bus while the other players ate in whites-only restaurants .... My mother couldn't believe it when I wrote her that a restaurant wouldn't serve a hungry person who had money, or that I got stopped by police for going downtown after 6 P.M.
"....No one explained to me about racial problems. They just let me find out for myself, I gained so much respect for Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Willie Mays, and the other black players who came before me.
"Being from Puerto Rico, where there was no difference between the races, I didn't think I was representing blacks when I played baseball with white players. But black fans cheered for me. Once, in an exhibition game in Mobile, Alabama, the blacks who were sitting in the sun in a segregated section of the ballpark went wild when I hit a ball that knocked down a sign that said: YELLOW TAXIS FOR WHITES ONLY. That gave me a lot of satisfaction.
"I became the second black to play for the Athletics. Bob Trice, a tall right-handed pitcher from Georgia, had come up in 1953. Naturally, the team had us room together on the road. I was one of the first Puerto Ricans to play in the majors. That meant a lot to me. It also made me more of a hero in Puerto Rico, though it took time before they knew that Vic Power of the Athletics was the same guy as Victor Pellot in the winter leagues. The first Puerto Rican in the majors had been Hiram Bithorn, a right-handed pitcher who won 18 games for the Cubs in 1943 but didn't pitch much more after returning from the army. I think there were only two other Puerto Ricans in the majors in my rookie year. Ruben Gomez was pitching for the Giants, in his second year. And Luis Marquez, an outfielder-first baseman, played for the Cubs and the Pirates. He had been in the majors once before, in 1951 with the Boston Braves. Roberto Clemente and Luis Arroyo would be rookies in 1955. And Juan Rivera's parents were Puerto Rican.
"Connie Mack was no longer the Athletics' manager or in charge of the organization, but I was fortunate to meet him. He was such a nice old gentleman. I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that he never got mad in his life.
"I began my rookie [year] going 0 for 16 against Mike Garcia, Bob Feller, Early Wynn and Bob Lemon in Cleveland .... Then we went to Chicago, and I got a bloop single for my first major league hit. The next time up, the pitcher threw at my head .... Not long after that, another white pitcher told me, 'I'm going to stick it in one ear and have it come out your other ear' .... I figured I'd have to still fight to survive, just like in the minors.
"Philadelphia was such a miserable team. Bobby Shantz and Alex Kellner were the only good pitchers, but that year no pitcher had 10 victories. They couldn't strike out anybody, so I was always chasing after balls. I'd get so tired. But I hustled and didn't complain about playing the outfield.
"There were some nice guys on [the Athletics]. Jim Finigan, our third baseman, was a very friendly man. He was a steady fielder and good contact hitter, but without power. He got by on his intelligence. He was second to Bob Grim in the voting for Rookie of the Year.
"I was friends with Elmer Valo. He was from Czechoslovakia, but he was my English teacher on the bench. He learned my accent, and when the umpire made a bad call, Valo yelled out, "You son of a beech!" The umpire would see me in the dugout and throw me out of the game. Any time the umpire made a bad call, I'd have to run into the clubhouse before Valo cursed him.
"....I was making $12,000 as a rookie. I was supposed to be a Rookie of the Year candidate and was even invited on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' to sing some song I didn't know the words to. But I only hit .255...."
-- Vic Power
We Played the Game