Jimmy Claxton

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Jimmy Claxton

James Edgar Claxton (December 14, 1892 in Wellington, British Columbia, Canada – March 3, 1970 in Tacoma, Washington, USA[1]) was a black American-Canadian baseball pitcher, and the first black man to play organized white baseball in the twentieth century.

Claxton's parents were 32-year-old William Edgar Claxton, a miner from Lynchburg, Virginia, and 18-year-old Emma Richards from Illinois. Claxton's mother had turned 18 just 24 days before the wedding, which was December 14, 1892. The wedding was just days after the end of the 1892 miners' strike in the mining town of Wellington, British Columbia, Canada which is part of modern day Nanaimo, British Columbia. The minister noted "The bridegroom is a coloured man; the bride a white woman" on the marriage record, which laid the groundwork for difficulties for Jimmy Claxton later.

Claxton made his way to the Bay Area, where he played for a local semi-pro team before coming to the attention of the Oakland Oaks. On May 28, 1916, Claxton temporarily broke the professional baseball color line when he played two games for the Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.

Claxton was introduced to the team owner by a part Native American friend as a fellow member of an Oklahoma tribe. A candy company — the Zee-Nut candy company — quickly produced a baseball card for Claxton. Within a week, a friend of Claxton revealed that he had both African American and Native American ancestors, and Claxton was promptly fired. It was nearly thirty years before another black man played organized white baseball.

Claxton played for the 1932 Cuban Stars (West).


Baseball by Ken Burns; New York: Alfred Knopf, 1994

1891 Canadian census. http://vihistory.uvic.ca/search/censusfull.php?id=10615&year=1891

Jimmy Claxton. Mount Benson School History. http://www.mountbensonschool.ca/history-claxton.html

Jimmy Claxton. Society for American Baseball Research. http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/43c05f0c

Marriage records. Claxton and RIchards. BC Archives. http://search-collections.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/genealogy-images/004400863/004400863_01439.jpg

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