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Boston’s Lesser-Known Baseball Players

You’ve probably never heard of some of the best players in Boston. For instance, there’s Will “Cannonball” Jackman, “an extraordinary pitcher… Hit them out of the park!” said Beverly Morgan Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History in Boston.

Jackman is featured in an exhibit now on display called The Color Of Baseball in Boston. It tells the story of the great black players who played on all-black neighborhood teams, industrial teams and semi-pro teams in and around Boston — long before the Major Leagues finally integrated.

Jackman was born in Texas in 1897 and became famous in 1920s Boston, where he played for more than 30 years for the Boston Monarchs as well as Boston’s Philadelphia Colored Giants in the 1920s. He pitched more than 1,200 games and played his last game at the age of 56 in 1971. At the exhibit, you can see his old uniform, beat up glove and tattered leather shoes.

Jackman and some of the other black players of his time were among the best. And they were well known, even in Boston, where the Red Sox didn’t integrate until 1956 — the last major league team to do so. But as the museum exhibit makes clear, there’s a long, proud history of black baseball in Boston. It starts way back, around the time of the oldest recorded record of baseball in America: which goes all the way back to 1791 in Massachusetts.

The Color Of Baseball in Boston is on display at the Museum of African American History now through Oct. 31.

Guests:

  • Beverly Morgan Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History

Other stories from this show:

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  • Camille

    Thanks so much for running this piece! I wish Cannonball’s glove was in the exhibit, but unfortunately it hasn’t survived. The uniform looks awesome, though!

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