The United States first black professional baseball player is one of two Negro League players who’ve just been elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bud Fowler – the first ever black professional player – and Buck O’Neil were elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
They were two of seven Negro League and pre-Negro League players considered for induction into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. They will be officially inducted – along with fellow 2022 inductees Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Gil Hodges – on July 24, according to the Hall’s website.
The pair will bring the total number of Negro League players in the Hall of Fame to 43, and this year’s six inductees will bring the total number of players who have achieved the honor to 339.
This was the first time O’Neil, Fowler and Minoso had a chance to join baseball’s greatest shrine, according to ESPN.
Bud Fowler (pictured center) was the first Black professional baseball player, according to the Hall of Fame. He played second base and pitched for different teams in more than a dozen leagues before he died in 1913
John Jordan ‘Buck’ O’Neil stands in the Chicago Cubs dugout in an undated photo
Negro leagues great Buck O’Neil listens to remarks during a news conference for the former Kansas City Monarch at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri in 2006
Buck O’Neil is pictured in July of 2006. He was considered for the National Baseball Hall of Fame that year but didn’t make the cut, and passed away two months later
Last December, Major League Baseball said it was ‘correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history’ by reclassifying the Negro Leagues as a major league, adding the statistics of about 3,400 players from seven leagues between 1920 and 1948 to its books.
Its players created the teams because of racist segregation that stopped them playing alongside white sportsmen.
But the Negro Leagues began to wane in 1947, when Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the MLB’s first black player, with the game eventually becoming fully inclusive to players of color.
Fowler was the first Black professional baseball player, according to the Hall of Fame. He was born in Fort Plain, New York, in 1858 and played second base and pitched for different teams in more than a dozen leagues before he died in 1913.
He began playing baseball professionally aged 14, for a previously all-white team in Newcastle, Pennsylvania.
Fowler supported himself by working as a barber, and played for a team called the Pick Nine in a game that saw them defeat the Boston Red Caps. Fowler’s last known professional play was in 1904, for the Kansas City Stars.
He died in poverty, and was buried in an unmarked grave.
O’Neil, known as an ambassador to baseball, played 10 seasons with the Memphis Red Socks and the Kansas City Monarchs. He went on to become a scout for the Chicago Cubs and then the first black coach in American League or National League history with Chicago.
The groundbreaking coach succeeded despite being denied the chance to attend school because of racial segregation, although he was later able to complete high school, and attend two years of college courses.
His career was interrupted in 1944 and 1945 when O’Neil joined the US World War Two effort, and worked at a naval construction battalion in New Jersey.
O’Neil was considered for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, but didn’t get enough votes to make the cut.
Pictured is the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York
Manager Gil Hodges and Jim Kaat of the New York Yankees were also elected to this year’s Hall of Fame
Two months after he spoke in Cooperstown, New York to honor the 17 nominees from the Negro League that year, he passed away at 94, according to ESPN.
‘One of the most selfless acts in American sports history,’ said Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City that O’Neil founded, said in an interview.
‘He handled it so gracefully, I think a lot of people thought he wasn’t disappointed, but of course he was. He knew that he was sick at that time and never let us know. He knew that this would be his swan song.’
‘Jubilation,’ Kendrick said on Sunday when the voting results were announced.