Thousands of baseball faithful made the trip to Cooperstown this weekend to witness the induction of seven new greats into the National Hall of Fame.
This year’s inductees included Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins slugger David Ortiz. “Big Papi” is the fourth Dominican player to ever enter the hall and only modern inductee from this year’s class.
“I always tried to live my life in a way that supports others, that makes a positive influence in the world,” Ortiz said. “And if my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone, you can change their world, you can change their future, just like so many people who believed in me. To everyone who believed in me, from my family to coaches to teammates to friends, know I could not have done this without you.”
Six historical players and coaches also got their plaque in the hall Sunday; Buck O’Neill, Minnie Miñoso, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva and Bud Fowler.
Fowler was raised in Cooperstown and was one of the earliest Black players to play professionally on integrated teams. In 1887, he played for the Binghamton Bingos before quitting in protest after two white players refused to play, on account of the team hiring a Black player.
Fowler was met with racism at many of the white clubs he played for, leading him to be largely nomadic through his career. Later in his career, he managed clubs, including all-Black barnstorming teams that helped pave the way for the Negro leagues.
“Pioneers many times do not get to enjoy the changes they bring about or the doors they open, but Fowler’s impact on the game and spreading baseball to Black communities around the country was indeed profound,” former right fielder David Winfield said, standing in to receive Fowler’s plaque.
Fowler was also honored by the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in a pre-game ceremony Saturday.