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John W. Jackson Jr., better known as John W. “Bud” Fowler (1858–1913), was a Black baseball player, captain, manager, umpire, and promoter. His baseball career spanned at least 33 years, from 1877 to 1909. In 1878, Fowler became the first known Black baseball player in the major or minor leagues, and he went on to play for a total of 18 minor league clubs with rosters composed predominantly of white ballplayers during the era of racial segregation. He played for numerous teams from New England to southern California and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Consequently, he was the most widely known Black baseball player in the country during his lifetime. In 2022, Fowler was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He has been the subject of two full biographies, the latest of which was published in 2013. Nevertheless, substantial gaps remain in what has been documented about Fowler’s career and his life outside baseball. This is due, in large part, to the limited availability of digital newspapers and other resources from across the broad geographic area in which he lived and played. As additional information becomes available, it is possible to fill some of the gaps and refine some of what has already been published about him. The three essays included here are part of that process. They describe and document Fowler’s time in Colorado (1885), southern California (the winter of 1888–1889), and Ohio (periodically from 1880 to 1905). The Ohio essay also focuses on his professional relationship with dentist William H. Drake in Findlay.


Bud Fowler, William Drake, William H. Drake, baseball history, integrated baseball, segregated baseball, Colorado baseball, California baseball, Ohio baseball, Findlay Sluggers


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