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Pioneering ballplayer, unsung star
Jud Wilson, a star of the Negro Baseball Leagues, grew up in Remington.

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Date published: 6/9/2001

DURING THE latter part of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Black Americans were denied access to most organized baseball because of the color of their skin. During this period of time, hundreds of talented black players toiled away from the mainstream in the Negro Baseball Leagues, their talents and exploits largely unknown and unrecognized.

A half-dozen different organized leagues, beginning with the Negro National League in 1920, numbered some five dozen teams that played through the 1950s. The Negro Leagues included midsummer All-Star games and post-season World Series contests like their white counterparts.

Over the years these leagues provided a framework of play for black ballplayers excluded from other leagues during segregation. One of the very best of these players was Judson Ernest "Jud" Wilson, a native of nearby Remington in Fauquier County.

Jud Wilson was known as a pure hitter and a ferocious competitor. Barrel-chested, bull-necked and strong as a mule, he was an intimidating presence on a baseball diamond.

He was born in Remington on Feb. 28, 1899. Research has turned up few details of his early years. It has been recorded that he courted his future wife, Betty, by crossing a creek on a log to reach her home.

Sometime during his teen-age years, Wilson moved to the Foggy Bottom section of Washington. After a stint in the Army in 1918, he was spotted playing baseball on the sandlots of Washington by "Scrappy" Brown, a shortstop for the Baltimore Black Sox. Brown took Wilson to Baltimore for a tryout. It was there that he acquired the nickname "Boojum" for the sound that his line drives made when they struck the fence during batting practice.

Wilson signed with the Black Sox in 1922. Homesick at first, he returned to his Washington neighborhood. However, Brown persuaded him to return to Baltimore, where he remained with the Black Sox for nine years. His career in the Negro Leagues lasted until 1945. He also played with the Homestead (Pa.) Grays, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Philadelphia Stars.

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