Stop 5 – The College of Wooster’s Original Baseball

The College of Wooster’s Original Baseball Field Ebert Art Center, 1220 Beall Ave., Wooster – This is the original site of the College of Wooster Baseball field. Charles played baseball here and is considered to be one of the first African Americans to desegregate intercollegiate baseball.

Charles Follis played baseball at Wooster University from 1901-1903. Reportedly Charles was the lead-off batter and catcher in the opener of the three-game 1901 campaign (0-3). The team improved dramatically in 1902 (6-2), and Follis’ baseball skills were described as “the talk of the Ohio college circuit”. He built a reputation for throwing out base-stealers and being a power hitter. Inducted into the Wooster “W” Hall of Fame in 2013, Charles also integrated college baseball. 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”. Charles was paid $10.00 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.