Emilio “Millito” Navarro, believed to be the oldest living professional baseball player, died on Saturday, April 30, 2011, in his home in Puerto Rico at age 105. [The information below is compiled from the two sources linked at the end.]
The 5-foot-5 infielder, known for his base-running skills, was the first Puerto Rican to play in the Negro Leagues. He was the leadoff hitter for the New York-based Cuban Stars of the Eastern Colored League and hit .337 in 1929. Navarro also played in the Dominican Republic with the Escogido Lions in the late 1920s and in Venezuela with Magallanes and other teams in the 1930s. In Puerto Rico, he played second base for the Ponce Lions for nearly 20 years.
In 2009, Navarro told the Associated Press that tributes paid by the major leagues to excluded black players were its way of apologizing for racial discrimination before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. “Back then, there was a lot of racism, but it is good they apologize now,” he said. “We black players suffered a lot during that time because we even had to go to different restaurants.”
Navarro was elected to the Puerto Rico Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Puerto Rican Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2008, Navarro threw out a first pitch before a game at Yankee Stadium. He warmed up his arm, waved his hat and made a 30-foot toss on the fly to catcher Jorge Posada.
Before he became a baseball player, Navarro had excelled in track and was known as a local champion in the 100, the long jump and the 120-yard high hurdles.
Navarro was born September 26, 1905, in Patillas and spent most of his life in the nearby city of Ponce, where he lived by himself in a house he built for his family in the late 1950s. In an interview, Navarro said that he had no secrets to a long life, other than dancing and an occasional glass of whiskey.
For full articles, see http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=6457594, http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2010/07/millito-navarro-still-swinging-the-bat-at-age-104/1 and http://articles.philly.com/2011-05-02/sports/29495814_1_puerto-rico-red-sox-ponce-lions