Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Solly Drake passed away Wednesday at the age of 90. He was one of 38 players to appear in a game for the club during its 1959 World Series championship season — the organization’s first since relocating from Brooklyn the year prior.
Drake began his baseball career with the independent Mandak League in 1947. He played four years there and impressed many scouts, leading to him signing a contract with the Chicago Cubs in 1951.
However, Drake would put his professional baseball career on hold to enlist in the U.S. Army later that year. He ended up serving two years during the Korean War and returned to the sport in 1954.
Drake made his MLB debut with the Cubs two years later, and batted .256 with 12 extra-base hits and 15 RBI in 65 games. He was acquired by the Dodgers in 1958, and after spending some time in the Cuban Professional League, made his debut with the team the following year.
Drake wound up playing in only nine games with the Dodgers before he was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in a trade. It was with the Phillies he received his most playing time, appearing in 67 games to close out the 1959 season.
That marked Drake’s last stint in the Majors as he retired at the conclusion of the 1961 season. Drake had a younger brother, Sammy, who also made it to the big leagues, and together became the first African-American siblings to play in the Majors.
Drake’s ventures after baseball
After retiring as a player, Drake went on to become a pastor at the Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
Before resuming his baseball career in 1954, Drake earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and physical education at Philander Smith College in Arkansas.
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