Bud Fowler, the first known black professional baseball player with his team, the Keokuk, Iowa club.
Readers of this space are aware that a few weeks ago I was contacted by Ms.Vonnya Peddigrew of The Root Branch Film Academy. She had a youth program setup to focus on the accomplishments of African-American heroes. One of the topics covered the accomplishments of ball players in the Negro Leagues. She asked me to come and address her class on this subject, and I saddled my horse.
This group of junior achievers was compiled of mostly 9-year-olds, so I had to find my “A” game to satisfy these curious minds. I was able to fill the bill with stories of some of the greats of the time along with a few anecdotes.
To bring you into the present, I was preparing to compose my efforts for this edition when it was mentioned that there should really be no rush to return to the life of Sam Lacy. That topic will sustain the same amount of interest if I put it on hold for a few more weeks.
A column or two on the heroes of the Negro Leagues should promote quite a bit of interest. I know the story, but I was reminded that everybody isn’t as old as me (that was a bit unkind), and few have had the same opportunities as I.
Every day we hear of a new safety device to save lives or property. However, we look at a baseball game and don’t give any thought to the protective gear worn by catchers. In our lifetime, it was always there and only if it was absent would we miss it.
Bud Fowler was a colored player at the professional level before White owners reached a “gentlemen’s agreement.” This agreement assured that no Negro would be allowed to play White baseball.
Even though he was a legitimate member of his team, Bud was the target of spikes worn by White players. This prompted Bud to find a solution in wooden slats he attached to his shins for protection.
The solution to the “gentlemen’s agreement” was found in the organization of colored players in their own league. The lack of leadership and funds caused this project to fail several times. Then along came Rube Foster. To be continued…