Del Williams


Before Jackie Robinson There Was Charles Thoma

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Profile America for the second day of Black History Month. While everyone knows that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947, it is largely forgotten that the groundwork for that event was laid more than 40 years earlier. In 1903, the Ohio Wesleyan baseball team played an away game against Notre Dame. The team's catcher was a young African-American, Charles Thomas. When he was denied lodging at the team's hotel in South Bend, Indiana, the Ohio Wesleyan baseball coach, Branch Rickey, had Thomas share his room. Years later, Rickey said the painful incident was his inspiration to sign Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, African-Americans are part of all major league baseball teams, which draw nearly 80 million fans each year to their games. You can find these and more facts about African-Americans on the web at
Sources: Statistical Abstract of the United States 2010, t. 1208

Whatever you are, be a good one. - Abraham Lincoln
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