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February 14, 2013

Village to 'shine light on forgotten hero'

Doubleday Field entrance to be named after ballplayer


According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Fowler played amateur baseball for several years and began to play professionally in 1878, when he pitched for a team in Chelsea, Mass. Later that month, he pitched for an all-star team against the National League team from Boston, known as the Red Stockings.

Fowler continued to play professional baseball through 1895, and played many of those years on integrated teams, but by 1896, he was prevented from playing on integrated teams. He spent much of the next decade organizing teams and leagues for African-American players.   

“I think everyone agrees that this is a Jim Crow story,” Katz said. “(Fowler) trying to bridge that gap must have been very difficult.” 

The ceremony will be held in honor of the 100-year anniversary of his death. He was born March 16, 1858, and died Feb. 26, 1913, in Frankfort. The ceremony is also being held in conjunction with the 2013 Frederick Ivor-Campbell 19th Century Baseball Conference sponsored by the SABR, which will take place April 19 and 20 in Cooperstown. 

“It would be great if we could have honored him on the actual anniversary of his death, but it was just too soon to make it all come together,” Katz said. “Then when we learned that the SABR people would be here in April, it made perfect sense to honor him then. In addition to being statisticians, SABR-metrics and so forth, they are historians. So they are the perfect people to help us present this baseball history in a new light.” 

There will also be an event at the Bullpen Theater of the National Baseball Hall of Fame on April 21 in Fowler’s honor. 

Katz said that several graduate students from the State University College at Oneonta, who are in Falk’s extension program, are making a display about Fowler’s life that will be featured at Doubleday Field, just inside the stadium on the first base line. The students will also make a presentation on April 21 at the Bullpen Theater. 

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