Whirty: Bud Fowler was interracial groundbreaker in baseball

From Ryan Whirty at Baseball America on February 26, 2013, with mention of SABR member Jeffrey Laing:

John W. Jackson, more popularly known in 19th century baseball circles as Bud Fowler, showed a remarkable ability to bounce back from adversity.

That’s not surprising, considering how much adversity he had to deal with. As the first African-American to break into Organized Baseball as early as 1878, Fowler faced harsh discrimination just about everywhere he landed as a ballplayer, frequently being forced out of town by bigoted teammates and residents who resented his presence on the local amateur, semi-pro or professional ball team’s roster.

But Fowler, who died in poverty a century ago on Feb. 26, 1913, always displayed an incredible adaptability and spirit that spurred him to move on from each rejection to new opportunities elsewhere.

Records from the 19th century are understandably spotty, but Fowler is first known to have played in the International Association in 1878, for Lynn/Worcester in Massachusetts. He went on to play all over the country, spending a lot of time in the Midwest but also venturing as far west as Colorado and New Mexico.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/majors/news/2013/2614762.html

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Originally published: February 28, 2013. Last Updated: February 28, 2013.