Dan Bankhead (born May 3, 1920 in Empire – died May 2, 1976 in Houston, Texas), was the first black pitcher in Major League Baseball. After a strong career in the Negro League playing for the Memphis Red Sox, he was signed at age 24 by Branch Rickey to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Bankhead, an excellent hitter who was leading the Negro League with a .385 batting average when purchased by the Dodgers, hit a home run in his first major league at bat on August 26, 1947 in Ebbets Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates. But, indicative of his future career on the mound, Bankhead gave up 10 hits in 3-1/3 innings pitching in relief. He was shipped to the minor leagues for the 1948 and 1949 seasons. Pitching for minor league clubs in Nashua, New Hampshire and St. Paul, Minnesota in 1948, he recorded 24 wins and 6 losses.
He returned to the Dodgers for the 1950 season and recorded 9 wins and 4 losses with a 5.50 earned run average. In 1951, his final year in the league, he appeared in only 7 games and recorded a record of 0 wins and 1 loss with an earned run average of 15.43. He died of cancer at a Veterans Administration hospital in Houston. During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1945.
Bankhead completed his Major League pitching career with a 9-5 record in 52 games with 111 strikeouts and a 6.52 ERA.