The Cannonball Foundation
WHAT WE DO
The Cannonball Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides instruction to players, coaches and parents from underserved communities on the fundamentals of baseball and softball, while teaching critical life skills that strengthen their leadership capacity and desire for personal excellence in the classroom, on the field and in their neighborhood.
Inspired by New England Negro League pitcher Will “Cannonball” Jackman, the Cannonball Foundation develops scholar-athletes who lead by example on the baseball diamond and in their communities.
We believe lessons learned inside the white lines are directly applicable to life off the field. Inspired by the career of the great Jackman, The Cannonball Foundation embraces his legacy of leadership to inspire a new generation of not simply skilled-players, and coaches, but also engaged citizens and successful students.
With help from private and corporate donors The Cannonball Foundation will serve youth organizations throughout New England, emphasizing leadership, teamwork, effort, respect, and responsibility.
Events & News
New Partnership- The Cannonball Foundation is proud to partner with Bob Salomon and the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Childrens Award winning book, “A Glove of Their Own”, to promote this wonderful story about playing it forward. For every purchase of the book The Cannonball Foundation will receive a portion of the proceeeds to fund our programs.
ON THE FIELD
The Cannonball Prospects will take the field for the first time to play in the End-of-Summer Showdown tournament hosted by North East Baseball at the University of Rhode Island and Brown University fields. Additional information on the players and game details to follow.
IN THE COMMUNITY
The Cannonball Foundation partnered with Holy Cross Baseball and Head Coach Greg DiCenzo on our first Leaders in the Lineup program.read more about it or check out our Programs section to learn more.
IN THE CLASSROOM
we had our first presentationon the history of Black Baseball in New England and Will “Cannonball” Jackman at Suffolk University.
Leaders in the Lineup
An instructional baseball clinic taught by college coaches and professional instructors designed to teach the fundamentals of baseball and leadership skills to underserved youth players, parents, and coaches. The connection between college scholar-athletes and coaches with players from low-income communities, focuses on strengthening the child’s commitment to academic excellence, character development and leadership training.
LEADERS IN THE LINEUP AT THE STRIKE ZONE
We held our innaugral Leaders in the Lineup program at the Strike Zone in Worcester MA Holy Cross Baseball Coach Greg DiCenzo along with coaches and players joined us for clinic to prepare local little leaguers and their coaches for the upcoming season.
The Cannonball Prospects
The Cannonball Prospects is a team of talented high school baseball players from the Greater Boston and Providence, RI areas. Beyond being college prospects, those selected will demonstrate good citizenship, a commitment to their education, and a financial need that poses a barrier to achieving a higher education. Players are nominated by their coaches in conjunction with The Cannonball Foundation.
The Prospects will play in the most competitive tournaments in the Northeast that are attended by college coaches and scouts searching for top quality talent for their programs.
The cost of playing in these showcases is prohibitive as it can run into the thousands of dollars. Thus, the Prospects is a manner for well deserving young men to receive an opportunity to express their talents on and off the field by connecting with prospective college coaches and by receiving mentoring from experienced coaches and staff who have played and coached baseball at the collegiate level in a supportive atmosphere that can provide a path towards their future.
The Cannonball Curriculum
THE GREATEST PITCHER YOU MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF
This presentation focuses on the history of black baseball in New England demonstrating the important and significant roles it played in communities throughout New England by looking at some of the greatest yet least known players and teams of all time such as Will “Cannonball” Jackman and the Boston Tigers. This is a great presentation for civic groups and history classes looking to expand their knowledge of New England baseball history.
RACE AS SEEN THROUGH A BASEBALL LENS
Through a Baseball Lens is based upon lessons from the Baseball Hall of Fame’s curriculum project on Jackie Robinson dealing with character building and the concepts of racial and social justice to both elementary and middle school children. It examines the privilege and responsibility of being a pioneer in your field, self-control, and leadership. The Jackie Robinson story offers a unique look at how sports, especially baseball, can help achieve significant social change.The program uses photographs and other texts for children to interpret. One great story is the mystery of how the Cleveland Colored Giants found a home in Providence.
Some of the student based learning activities can include:
-Student-based learning activities which include concept mapping
-Interpretation of images
-Short creative writing exercises
To see baseball history come alive for your organization please contact us to schedule a presentation or if you have any questions about this or any of our other programs.
BASEBALL AS A LIFE LESSON
Baseball is more than our National Pastime. It is a way to help low income urban youth to achieve their dreams on and off the baseball diamond. The Cannonball Foundation believes in the power of baseball and the lessons it teaches to be self-disciplined, hard-working, competitive, persistent, and humble.
SUPPORTING OUR MISSION
Please help us bring baseball’s powerful lessons to the community.
-$200 brings the Cannonball Curriculum program to local schools and organizations
-$350 supports one Leaders in the Lineup program
-$500 supports the purchase of equipment for The Cannonball Prospects
-$800 provides the tournament entry fee for The Cannonball Prospects
-$1,000 provides uniforms for The Cannonball Prospects
ANNUAL FUND CAMPAIGN
The Cannonball Foundation relies on the generosity of its donors. All gifts to the Annual Fund Campaign make youth leadership development programs, uniforms, equipment and everything else The Cannonball Foundation does possible!
The Cannonball Foundation welcomes all kinds of volunteers from historical researcher to teaching the fundamentals of hitting, and everything in between.
CONSIDER DONATING WITH A SPECIAL GIFT
Your tax deductible donations provide a wealth of opportunities for so many youth to look towards a brighter future for themselves and our communities.
There are many ways you can contribute to our mission.
-Matching Gifts from an Employer
-Sponsorships and Partners
-Baseball Equipment Donations
-Sponsoring a Cannonball Prospect player
THE LEGEND OF CANNONBALL JACKSON
Negro League’s William Jackman may be the best ballplayer you’ve never heard of.
William Jackman could be one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. At the very least, he could be the best pitcher whose name you have never heard.
While a lightning-quick second baseman for the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs named Jackie Robinson was attracting the attention of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, Jackman, known to New England baseball fans and writers simply as “Cannonball,” achieved a level of success on par with some of the game’s immortals.
Born on Oct. 7, 1897, in Carta, Texas, the charismatic Jackman — for whom making friends and charming spectators seemed as easy as blowing his fastball by hitters — arrived in Boston in 1924, after barnstorming for teams in Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, to pitch for the Boston Colored Giants of the Greater Boston Colored League.
According to James A. Riley’s “Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Leagues,” Jackman earned an amazing 52 wins in one season with the Giants and even beat Satchel Paige both times the two titans squared off. In July 1927, the Boston Daily Traveler’s sportswriter, Herb Finnegan, declared that Jackman was one of the best pitchers in the country, grouping him with such widely accepted All-Stars as Walter Johnson, Flint Meadows and Grover Cleveland Alexander. In 1930, the Taunton Daily Gazette called Jackman “the world’s greatest colored pitcher,” and credited him with a 48-4 record in 1929 with two no-hitters.
By 1930, Jackman’s fan base so far-reaching that he was paid $175 a game with an additional $10 bonus per strikeout to pitch for brief stretches for the Newark Eagles, Watertown Arsenal, East Douglas (Mass.) Broncos and the Wilmington Quaker Giants. Though Jackman’s services for teams other than the Giants could have very easily sullied his relationship with the club’s front office and his teammates — especially his long-time catcher Burlin White — Jackman remained a beloved figure in the clubhouse and in the stands.
On May 25, 1949, in the presence of some 4,200 cheering fans, Jackman surrendered only two runs on six hits over nine innings in what was his 1,200th professional pitching performance. At age 52, Jackman’s fastball no longer seemed blazing, but he was still among the most potent of pitchers for hitters young and old to face. In the crowd was the Boston Globe’s Jerry Nason, who, following the game, paid tribute to Jackman by calling him “the equal of Satchel Paige” and insisting that if he were able to perform on the Major League stage, he would “no doubt become one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball.” Despite lingering questions surrounding Jackman’s career statistics, researchers have determined that he won over 200 games— 22 coming against pitchers with Major League experience — struck out 10 batters or more in 78 games and hurled 48 shutouts.
Jackman died suddenly on Sept. 8, 1972, while visiting with friends in Marion, Mass. News of his death spread rapidly throughout the local and national baseball circles and was mentioned not only in Boston’s newspapers, but also The Sporting News and The Washington Post.
In July 2000, nearly 30 years after Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent declared a July day in 1971 “Will Jackman Day,” the Red Sox honored Jackman and his teammates with a celebration at Roxbury’s Jim Rice Field — a diamond named after the Red Sox Hall of Fame outfielder — which was attended by thousands of fans. Two years later, the Red Sox again honored the stars Boston’s professional Negro Leagues by taking the field against the Toronto Blue Jays in Jackman’s former Giants colors.
According to the great Medford-born historian “Doc” Kountz, the story of African-American baseball players who competed at Medford’s Playstead Park, Roxbury’s Carter Playground, Boston’s Columbus Avenue Park, Lincoln Park, Braves Field and, on the rare occasion, Fenway Park, is not merely another sports story, but “a documentary of early times when, despite racial prejudices, there were good pioneers of inter-racial progress on both sides, proving again, there is still much we can learn and profit from the past.”