Ohio to Honor First Black Professional Football PlayerHot Buzz

July 11, 2018 11:37
Ohio to Honor First Black Professional Football Player

(Image source from: NFL Football Operations)

Ohio is honoring the "Black Cyclone." Governor of Ohio John Kasich has signed legislation designating February 3 as Charles Follis Day, acknowledging the country's first black professional football player.

Follis, who was born on Feb. 3, 1879, in Virginia, grew up in Wooster. He assisted to organize the initial varsity football team at Wooster High School in 1899. His white schoolmates elected him captain, and Wooster had a victorious season.

After graduation, Follis played with an amateur Wooster team. But in 1904, he signed a contract with the Shelby (Ohio) Blues of the American Professional Football Association.

When an injury ended Follis football career a couple of years later, he played professional baseball. But pneumonia took his life in 1910 when he was just 31.

In acknowledgment of his many carry through on the football field, Follis was esteemed with a placard at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, received an announcement from the city of Shelby, and was recognized by Wooster High School after they designated their football field as "Follis Field."

"It was at Wooster High School in Wayne County where Charles Follis established a name for himself through his hard work, positive attitude, and passion for the game of football," state Representative Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, said in a prepared statement.

He collectively sponsored House Bill 229 with state Representative Mark Romanchuk, R-Ontario.

By Sowmya Sangam

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