Monday, March 26

McGee was first to break ‘reverse color barrier’.

Stone Mountain, GA — (FNS) Richard McGee, originally from New Lexington, Ohio, was the first Caucasian to play in the Negro Leagues. He was also the last.

McGee played for the Atlanta Black Crackers from 1931 to 1933, crossing the color line in the opposite direction nearly 16 years before Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues.

McGee had a rare medical condition — Pigmentus Acceleratus — which caused his skin to darken rapidly, within minutes, when exposed to sunlight.

McGee was often mistaken as an African-American when he ventured out of doors. In an era of rampant bigotry, that made trying out for the white teams of the day extremely difficult.

So, McGee signed on to play first with the Cleveland Buckeyes, and then moved deeper south with the Crackers.

The transition into the negro leagues was in some ways tough for McGee – noted by his lack of rhythm, inability to rhyme, and more obvious “shortcomings.”

“It was only when we hit first the showers, that’s when we realized he was a white boy.” Said former Cracker standout Coosey Walker, now 92.

His teammates then referred to him affectionately as “Lil’ Dick” McGee.

Plum “Sweetfeet” Posey fondly recalls McGee:

“We included Lil’ Dick in everything we did. He slept with us in the bus and even ate at the colored counter. White folks almost hated him more than they hated us.”