“The Greatest Pitcher You Never Heard Of”

Photo series of shows Cannonball Jackman's pitching motion.

2/10/2011

Mike Ginns brought a forgotten chapter of Boston-area sports history to campus when the president and executive director of the Cannonball Foundation discussed “Black Baseball in New England” in a program hosted by the History Department.

He focused on the legendary Will “Cannonball” Jackman, a pitcher who played for a number of semi-professional teams during his stellar career, including the Boston Royal Giants and the Philadelphia Colored Giants. He also had a stint in the Negro National League.

It is estimated that Jackman, a tall, powerful right-hander with a submarine-style delivery, won more than 600 of the 1,200 games he pitched between the early 1920s to late 1940s, with 600 to 800 strikeouts and more than 40 shutouts. In one season, he posted an astonishing record of 52-2.

“He was an incredible talent and the greatest pitcher you never heard of,” said Ginns, who earned his MPA from the Sawyer Business School. “It was an event every time he pitched, like when Pedro Martinez first came to Boston. People would stand three to four deep around the roped-off ballpark, and kids were perched in trees every time he took the mound.”

Ginns shared the stage with Robert Cvornyek, professor and chair of the History Department at Rhode Island College, baseball author, and member of the Society for American Baseball Research. A collection of Jackman memorabilia was displayed courtesy of the Museum of African American History.

Jackman is the inspiration behind the Cannonball Foundation, an organization that promotes baseball play among youth in low-income urban communities. Its specially designed programs provide baseball and leadership skill-building opportunities for players, parents, and coaches.

Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey presented Ginns with a citation for The Cannonball Foundation following the presentation.

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