Charles Follis Way at Shelby Stadium Skiles Field off of S. Gamble St., Shelby – Dedicated by the City of Shelby in 2020, this street commemorates the civic pride and admiration of Charles Follis as the great sports pioneer he was.
In 2020, Mayor Steven L. Schag and Joseph Gies initiated the renaming of this street, Charles Follis Way. Charles Follis was born in 1880 to Catherine and J. Henry Follis in Cloverdale, Virginia. In 1890 they moved to Wooster, Ohio. A duplicate sign is on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Charles excelled in baseball and track and field and in1898, became the captain of the first Wooster High School football team, where he earned the nickname “The Black Cyclone.” He also played baseball for Wooster University and football for the Wooster Athletic Club. After Charles faced the tough Shelby Athletic Club (later, the Blues) and owner Frank Schiffer, Schiffer offered Charles a job, and a place to live in Shelby, Ohio. Eventually, Charles was paid $10.00 per game as the star player of the Shelby Blues 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.