Upstate Baseball Pioneer Finally Gets Nod Into The Hall of Fame
Yesterday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which happily resides just over an hour from the center of the Capital Region, announced six new players that will be added to the Hall in 2022. Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso and Tony Oliva were elected by the Golden Days Era Committee, and Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil were chosen by the Early Baseball Era Committee according to mlb.com. The class will be part of the July 24th induction ceremony in Cooperstown next year. One of them already spent much of his life around Cooperstown.
For a baseball player, there is no greater honor than to be part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It is certainly the 'golden stamp' on any career. Unfortunately, many times that 'golden stamp' doesn't come from the Baseball Writers of America during the regular induction eligibility for a player. It comes posthumously.
According to the Society For American Baseball Research, Bud Fowler was an upstate New York kid. He was born in Fort Plain, grew up for a while in Cooperstown and died in Frankfort, NY 1913. What Bud did, can never be done again. Fowler was believed to be the first black professional baseball player long before Jackie Robinson broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, in fact it was only 13 years after the 13th Amendment abolished Slavery in 1865.
According to an article in syracuse.com by George Owens that depicted the beginning of Fowler's pro career, "In 1878, the Lynn Live Oaks of the International Association called on Fowler, who had been playing for an amateur team, to pitch three games to fill in for an injured player and on May 17 of that year, Fowler tossed a two-hit shutout against the London (Ontario) Tecumsehs to become the first known African-American to play pro baseball. One of Fowler’s three starts while with the Live Oaks was a 9-3 loss against the Syracuse Stars."
I can't begin to print the horrific terms that were used to describe Bud's participation in each game in local newspapers. To endure that kind of hatred, so soon after the Civil War is something to be commended on its own, beyond Fowler's skills on the baseball diamond. Congratulations to the 2022 Hall of Fame Class that was inducted yesterday. The Baseball Writers will announce their inductees on January 25th. This was a long overdue honor for an upstate New York kid that just wanted to play baseball with the best.