You’ve probably read about the three-game series between the Chicago Cubs and Rube Foster’s Leland Giants in 1909. The Cubs swept the series 4-1, 6-5, and 1-0. Probably the most celebrated incident of the series took place in the first game, when Lelands’ outfielder Joe Green tried to score from third—with a broken leg. Here is the Chicago Tribune’s story for the game (October 19, 1909):
The image of the black ballplayer who was barred from the majors trying desperately to hobble home on a broken leg to score against the greatest white team of the era—one of the greatest of all time—has to be one of the most enduring, and heartbreaking, of the whole era of segregated baseball.
Green went on to take over the Chicago Giants after Frank Leland’s death in 1914. He became famous for his comedy routines, and continued to coach and pinch-hit frequently even after he stopped being an everyday player. He ran the Chicago Giants well into the 1940s, and was a well-known and beloved figure in the Chicago community until the end of his life.
On September 12, 1962, Green entered the hospital.
According to the Cook County Death Index, “Joe Charles Green” passed away on September 18, 1962. The Defender published his obituary on September 25:
It’s hard not to conclude that it was the famous broken leg from 1909 that, more than 50 years later, finally killed Joe Green.
P.S. The Social Security Death Index gives “Charles Green” a birthdate of July 26, 1878, which matches the one in James Riley’s Biographical Encyclopedia, meaning that the obituary gave his age accurately.
P.P.S. Patrick Rock and I located these articles about the circumstances of Joe Green’s death independently and more or less simultaneously. Patrick already updated Green’s entry at the BR Bullpen to reflect the cause of death; he suggested I put together a post here to present all the details.