On April 11, 1961, 14 years after Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color barrier. Jacob "Jake" Wood Jr., made his Major League Debut as the first African American to come through the Detroit Tiger organization and play for the Detroit Tigers. Jake was the primary reason Tigers Great and "Hometown Hero" Willie Horton signed with the Detroit Tigers, following his dad's direction along with Legal Advisor Judge Damon Keith. The elder Horton felt signing with the Tigers might make a difference for more African American ballplayers in the future. A couple of years after Jim Campbell became General Manager, Horton's mentor Judge Damion Keith began working closely with him and bringing more African American ballplayers to the Tigers. They believed this change would lead to more African American fans and businesses. The Tigers became a true reflection of the City of Detroit with the signing of more African American ballplayers.
The achievements of African-American stars like Billy Bruton, Jake Wood, Gates Brown, Willie Horton, Earl Wilson, Lou Whitaker, Chet Lemon, Larry Herndon, Cecil Fielder, Gary Sheffield, Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson and recently Torii Hunter & David Price have thrilled and inspired generations of Tigers fans.