African Americans were banned from major league baseball, until Jackie Robinson stepped on the field for the Dodgers. From 1871 to 1947, African American baseball players were forced to play only those teams made up of negroes. Here are some well known African Americans in baseball, who not only played for their respective teams, but also fought against racism.
Bud Fowler was born on March 16, 1858, in Fort Plain, New York. His real name was John W. Jackson, and he learned baseball in Cooperstown, New York. He was the first known African-American professional player and is first mentioned to have pitched for a team in Chelsea, in April 1878. Later the same month, he pitched a game for the Lynn Live Oaks against the Boston Nationals, and finished that season with Worcester. He continued to play for teams in New England and Canada for the next four years. He also played for teams in Niles, Ohio, Stillwater and Minnesota. Fowler died on February 26, 1913, in Frankfort, New York. His death was primarily because of illness and poverty, and received national attention.
Andrew Rube Foster was born on September 17, 1879, in Calvert, Texas. He is considered to be one of the best African-American pitchers of the 1900s. He started his professional career in 1897, with an independent black team Waco Yellow Jackets. Foster also founded the Chicago American Giants, which was considered as one of the most successful black baseball teams of the pre-integration era. He went on to play for Frank Leland’s Chicago Union Giants, Bardeen’s Otsego Independents and Cuban X-Giants. Later he joined the Chicago Leland Giants as its playing manager, and under his leadership, the team won 110 games. Out of these, it won 48 straight matches and lost only ten matches. In 1920, Foster along with the owners of six other midwestern clubs, formed a professional baseball circuit for African-American teams. He died in 1930, because of mental illness.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson (popularly known as Jackie Robinson) was born on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia. He graduated from Dakota Junior High School in 1935, and got enrolled in Muir Tech. Jackie was inspired by his elder brothers Mack and Frank, to pursue his interest in sports. He played in the baseball, football, and basketball teams, and was very fond of tennis. He was selected for the All-Star Games, from 1949 to 1954, and was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award, in 1947. He also went on to win the National League MVP Award in 1949, being the first black player to be so honored. He was the first African-American television analyst in Major League Baseball, and the first African-American vice-president of a major American corporation. Robinson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He died on October 24, 1972, in Stamford, Connecticut, of a heart attack.
Moses Fleetwood Walker
Moses Fleetwood Walker was born on October 7, 1857, in Mount Pleasant, Ohio. He played for Oberlin College’s first varsity baseball team, in the spring of 1881, and for the University of Michigan, in 1882. Walker signed with the Northwestern League Toledo Blue Stockings in 1883, and played in Western League for Cleveland, in 1885. He also played for Waterbury, in the Eastern League through 1886. Later in 1887, Walker moved to the International League Newark Little Giants. After he was attacked by a group of white men in Syracuse, Walker became a firm supporter of black nationalism. He also published a 47-page pamphlet titled Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present and Future of the Negro Race in America. Walker died on May 11, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Besides the players mentioned above, many others like Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Josh Gibson, Walter “Buck” Leonard and Ray Dandridge were also some famous African Americans in baseball.