The year 1941 was an unforgettable season in Major League baseball. The New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers four games to one to win the World Series, and Joe DiMaggio won the American League Most-Valuable-Player Award over Boston Red Sox outfielder, Ted Williams. Both of these stars accomplished incredible feats that year. Most baseball fans will remember that New York Yankees centerfielder, Joe DiMaggio’s 56 consecutive games hitting-streak, as well as Ted Williams’ .406 batting average would dominate the sports pages. As Minor League catcher “Crash” Davis, played by actor Kevin Costner, said in the movie, Bull Durham, “They count everything in baseball.” It’s true. It’s almost like baseball code. Just say .406 or 56 game hitting-streak and most hardball fans will remember 1941. It has also been written that no one has come close to duplicating this hitting-streak or recorded a .400 or better batting average for an entire season since then..
But, there is a small glitch in one of the numbers, a “snafu” if you will. You see Minor League players are also paid athletes and therefore are listed as professional baseball players. So, here’s the story; you decide. Twenty years later, in 1961, a 19-year-old named Aaron Pointer was living in California. He had been born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was a two-sport star in basketball and baseball at the University of San Francisco. He was drafted that year out of college by the Houston Colt 45’s as an outfielder. Pointer was then sent to where he least expected, Salisbury, North Carolina, to play for the Class-A Braves of the South Atlantic League. It was a rough assignment for an African-American man in the Jim Crow south. Segregation Laws insured Aaron that he would have to endure second-class accommodations and endless racial taunting. One story goes that one crazed Braves fan even took a shot at Pointer with a BB gun, during a game. But, Pointer was equipped with an iron will, a rifle arm, cheetah-like speed, and the batting eye of a hawk. This combination of talent overwhelmed the fans and the league. The results left Aaron Pointer with a .402 batting average at the end of the year. That season, 1961, still stands as the last year in which any professional baseball player hit .400 or better for a full season, not 1941. No disrespect is intended towards Ted Williams who was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history and yes he did accomplish his feat against Major League pitching, but in my opinion, he was not the last professional baseball player to bat over .400. It was Aaron Pointer.
Aaron Pointer spent the majority of his 12 years playing baseball in the Minor Leagues and Japan. He did have a cup of coffee with the Houston club on three different occasions, 1963, 1966, and 1967. While in the big leagues he hit two home runs, off pitchers Joe Nuxhall and Sammy Ellis.
After putting down his glove for good, Aaron Pointer began officiating recreation league football games. There he worked his way up through high school and college ball, where he became the first African-American to officiate football in the Pac-10 Conference. He eventually joined the National Football League in 1987 as a head lineman, where he officiated for over a decade. He retired from the NFL in 2003.
Aaron Pointer was talented and could do it all on a baseball diamond. All except sing that is. You see, Aaron Pointer had four sisters who could sing and did so very well, thank you. When the Pointer Sisters recorded their hit record “We Are Family,” they were not only talking about just themselves but also their brother Aaron.
The 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates adopted the Pointer Sisters song and helped make it famous during their championship run against the favored Baltimore Orioles.
Andy Purvis is a local author. His books "In the Company of Greatness" and "Remembered Greatness" are on the shelves at the local Barnes and Noble, at Beamer's Sports Grill 5922 S Staples, and online at many different sites including Amazon, bn.com, booksamillion, Google Books, etc. They are also available in e-reader format. Contact him at www.purvisbooks.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.