Jimmy Claxton played in one game for the Oakland Oaks in 1916. His place in history is secured, though, captured on a Zeenut card as the first player of African-American heritage to appear on a baseball card.
A wildly successful semi-pro career combined with a Pacific Coast League team desperate for pitching help led to a little piece of sports memorabilia history.
Jimmy Claxton was a sensation on the northern California baseball circuit. Finally, in 1916, the Oakland Oaks gave him a shot. The left-hander spent about a week with the team, appearing in just one game. His stay happened to coincide with the visit of the photographer credited with the images that appear on the popular Zeenuts PCL set.
Pro ball was years from accepting a man of color–even mixed color–and Claxton’s career was almost over before it began.