John W. “Bud” Fowler

John W. “Bud” Fowler, also known as John W. Jackson, was an African-American baseball player who lived during the 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born on March 16, 1858, in Cooperstown, New York, and he passed away on February 26, 1913, in Frankfort, New York.

Bud Fowler is notable for being one of the earliest professional African-American baseball players. He played as an infielder and began his baseball career in the 1870s, at a time when racial segregation and discrimination were prevalent in the sport. Despite facing significant obstacles and racial barriers, Fowler displayed exceptional talent and became a well-respected player in various minor league teams in the United States, Canada, and Cuba.

Bud Fowler, center, is believed to be the first professional Black baseball player. He signed with the Guelph Maple Leafs (not pictured here) in 1881 but never played.

In 1884, Fowler played in the International League, making him the first African-American to play in a racially integrated professional league. He continued to play professional baseball for several years, earning praise for his skills and character. However, as racial segregation tightened its grip on the sport, opportunities for African-American players diminished, and Fowler’s career eventually came to an end.

Bud Fowler’s gravestone is in Frankfort’s Oakview Cemetery.

Bud Fowler’s legacy is significant as he broke barriers in baseball during a challenging era of racial discrimination. His achievements and determination paved the way for future generations of African-American baseball players, who would continue to fight for equality and integration in the sport.

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