A Dozen Things You Should Know About Bud Fowler

Bud Fowler

Bud Fowler

1. John W. Jackson, Jr. was born in Fort Plain, New York in 1858. He was the son of a barber and learned the profession from his dad.

2.In 1860 the family moved to Cooperstown (of all places), where Jackson (Fowler) learned to play baseball.

3. In 1878 he joined the integrated Chelsea, Massachusetts amateur team, now using the name Fowler (the exact reason for the change is unknown). His habit of calling other players “Bud” got him his nickname.

4. Later that season he played for the Lynn Live Oaks, a team in the International League, becoming the first acknowledged black professional.

5. He spent the next several years in and out of the minor leagues playing for integrated teams or for all black independent teams.

6. He began his career as a pitcher, but in 1884 moved to second base, where he played most of the remainder of his career.

7. In 1886, he helped form the League of Colored Base Ball Players, the first “Negro League.” The league folded 10 days into its first season.

8. In 1887, he played for Birmingham in the International League. He was released, apparently because of racial turmoil on the team, in late June. In July the International League formally banned black ball players, grandfathering in a handful who were currently on team rosters.

9. Fowler spent the remainder of the Nineteenth Century moving from team to team playing second and watching team after team either fold or implement segregation rules. He formed several teams of his own, none of which were successful in the long run.

10. He played his last game in 1909, retiring to Frankfort, New York.

11. He died in 1913.

12. He is credited with inventing shin guards to protect his legs from sliding players while covering second. Those guards later became standard equipment for catchers. It’s fair to note that Frank Grant is also credited with inventing shin guards.

Fowler's grave. Stone provided by SABR

Fowler’s grave. Stone provided by SABR

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One Response to “A Dozen Things You Should Know About Bud Fowler”

  1. GlenRussellSlater Says:

    I seem to recall from a book that I read when I was a child that Roger Bresnahan was credited for inventing catcher shin guards. Of course, they also used to erroneously credit a LOT of people with stuff.

    Glen

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