No. 30 Negro Leagues Bud Fowler

Bud Fowler is known as the first black professional player and the first to play interracial baseball. Surprisingly enough his SABR biography said he captained an interracial baseball team. At that time, I believe the captain was equal to the Manager. That is quite a feat.

One thing I didn’t mention in the Frank Grant biography was how he and Bud Fowler (then in the same league) wore wooden slats on their shins because opponents would slide into them on purpose because of the color of their skin.

Bud Fowler was born in New York state in 1858, so like Grant he was born a free man. He signed his first contract in 1879. He started as a pitcher and catcher. He moved to second when his arm got sore from pitching.

Fowler moved from team to team in a large part due to his teammates not wanting to play with a black man. However, he was so good, he would catch on with another team the next year.

In the middle of the 1885 season, he signed a contract to play in Pueblo, CO. The newspaper raved about his playing and talked about how well he got along with his teammates. The second part of that sentence wasn’t true as he was let go after five games as his teammates didn’t want him on the team.

Fowler did like the city of Denver and decided to open a barber shop there. He played some baseball on the side. He didn’t love Denver that much because he signed to play for a team in Topeka, Kansas. He played the whole season and led the league in triples.

In 1887 Fowler was part of a group to form the first organized black major league. They even signed the National Agreement making them an official member of organized baseball. However, the league only lasted 10 days.

By 1889 Fowler was becoming famous for telling stories about his baseball career. He claimed to have played in about every state, which appears to be true based on his SABR biography. He also claimed to be older than what he was. It was all in the name of entertainment.

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