Bud Fowler

Baseball’s First Black Professional

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About the Book

This is the biography of Bud Fowler (né John Jackson), the first African American to play in organized baseball, and the longest tenured at the time that the color line was drawn. In addition to his professional playing career, which lasted more than 25 years, Fowler was a scout, organizer, owner, and promoter of touring black baseball clubs—including the legendary Page Fence Giants—in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Emphasizing the social and cultural contexts for Fowler’s accomplishments on and off the baseball diamond, and his prominence within the history and development of the national pastime, the text builds a convincing case for Fowler as one of the great pioneering figures of the early game.

About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Michael Laing is a retired English teacher. His writing has appeared in Base Ball, Black Ball and The National Pastime and his Bud Fowler: Baseball’s First Black Professional (McFarland, 2013) received a Robert Peterson Award from SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Bibliographic Details

Jeffrey Michael Laing
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: 19 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7264-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0377-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Prologue: Grand Island, Nebraska, May 1892—Bud Fowler’s Fight 5

One—The Rise of Baseball in the Nineteenth Century 9

Two—The Color Line: Segregation and Racism in Nineteenth Century Baseball 38

Three—An African American in Organized Baseball (1878–1886) 64

Four—The Color Line Emerges (1887–1889) 89

Five—Shut Out: The Independent Years (1890–1899) 120

Six—A Boys’ Game and a Gentleman’s Agreement: The Tensions Within Nineteenth Century Baseball 147

Seven—Bud Fowler, Black Baseball Entrepreneur (1883–1913) 167

Eight—Bud Fowler’s Legacy 188

Epilogue: Frankfort, New York, July 1987—Bud Fowler Day 199

Chapter Notes 201

Bibliography 216

Index 223

Book Reviews & Awards

“an interesting read…well written…Laing has done a great job of ferreting out the details of Fowler’s life…[He makes] his case in a convincing fashion that Fowler was truly a pioneering figure not only in the history of African American baseball but in the overall history of baseball…this book does an excellent job at making a case for Bud Fowler for inclusion into the National Baseball Hall of Fame—Nine; “the text builds a convincing case for Fowler as one of the great pioneering figures of the early game”—The Courier; “A very well-researched book that will fill a significant gap.”—Peter Morris, author of Game of Inches.