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Exhibit unveiled honoring Chuck Harmon, the Reds’ first Black baseball player

The exhibit champions Harmon’s off-the-field accomplishments as much as it celebrates what he did on the diamond.
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The first Black baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds was also a trailblazer in the Hamilton County courts system, and now there’s an exhibit to honor him.

Harmon was a right-handed utility player for the Reds (then the Cincinnati Redlegs) from 1954-1956.

After his playing career, Harmon settled into Golf Manor, where there’s currently a street and a baseball field named in his honor. But he didn’t stop breaking racial barriers even then.

Harmon was among the first Black individuals to work in the Hamilton County courts and, later, with the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals.

His career as deputy clerk spanned 28 years.

“His job was to make sure all who were appearing in court, all the paperwork, was in order,” said Chuck Harmon Jr., “and making sure everyone had their opportunity to be seen by the judge.”

Harmon Jr. was on hand Thursday for the unveiling of his father’s exhibit inside Downtown Cincinnati’s William Howard Taft Center, where Hamilton County Probate Court resides.

The exhibit on the 9th floor of the building pays tribute to Harmon’s playing days as well as his work in the court system.

“It’s such a great honor,” said Harmon Jr., “because a lot of people know his name, ‘Chuck Harmon.’ Being a groundbreaker as far as the first African American for the Cincinnati Reds. They will also know that he contributed off the field.”

Harmon Jr. describes his father, who died in 2019, as a humble man, a great role model and a great person beloved by all.

Hamilton County Probate Judge Ralph Winkler hosted the unveiling ceremony in his courtroom.

“They’re going to be able to stop by and see this, and they’ll be able to nod their head in agreement when they see what Chuck Harmon did for our city.”

A plaque explaining Harmon’s milestones will be hung by the end of July.

Winkler says as many as 40,000 people will pass it every year.

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