Located at 818 Spink St.,Wooster (diagonally across from this sign on Stibbs St. at Weber House) – The College of Wooster. Charles was raised here with siblings Cora, Lelia, Curtis, Lucy, and Joseph.
The Follis home, 818 Spink Street, is diagonally across the street from this point. This is the neighborhood where Charles Follis, the first black pro football player, grew up with his four sisters and two brothers. His mother and father, Cate and Henry Follis, were former slaves in Virginia and moved to Ohio in search of a better life for their children. Charles excelled in baseball and track and field and in 1898 became the captain of the first Wooster High School football team.
As Captain, Charles lead the team to two undefeated seasons and earned the nickname “The Black Cyclone”. He was paid $10 per game to move to Shelby, Ohio and star for Shelby Blues Football Club until 1906, when he retired from football due to injuries. While in Shelby, Charles’ ability and character impressed his teammate Branch Rickey. Charles Follis finished his pro sports career as a standout catcher and slugger for The Cuban Giants Negro League from Trenton, New Jersey, and sadly passed in 1910 after contracting pneumonia at the age of 30. He is buried in the Wooster Cemetery with his family. In 1947, as fan interest in Major League Baseball was waning, Branch Rickey (remembering his old teammate Charles Follis’ character and ability) signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. This signing broke the race barrier, bringing an end to segregation in professional baseball.