Wardell Jackson - the biography below highlights Jackson's baseball career. Please add additional information about Mr. Jackson.
Born on a plantation in Mississippi in 1907, Mr. Jackson came to Champaign in 1927 after living briefly in Memphis. He has worked in a garage, on the railroad, and on a boat on the Mississippi River, but is best known as the owner of the Champaign Eagles. He loved the game throughout his life, "If you don't turn on the baseball game, he gets mad," his sister said in the early 1980s. "He wants to watch baseball on TV all the time."
Wardell Jackson formed the Champaign Eagles in the late 40s and they played at Illinois Field located at Wright and University Avenue. The Eagles competed in the Illinois-Indiana circuit in 1951 and debuted into the Eastern Illinois League in 1952. Jackson acquired land to develop the baseball diamond that became known as Eagles Park. From the December 1975 issue of The Spectrum covering an oral interview with Jackson, they quoted him as follows, "I didn't have no pets. Each day I would go to practice to see who was playing the best ball. I didn't decide who was going to play until the last practice before the scheduled game. Just because a player did good in one game, that didn't mean that he would play the next game. If he was doing bad in practice, or didn't show up, I would play whoever looked good in practice ".
Wardell Jackson purchased the Birmingham Black Barons and the Philadelphia Stars (both Negro League teams) in 1960 and he brought Ernie Westfield to Champaign to pitch for the Eagles in 1961.
Wardelll Jackson also owned property in the North First Street area, which he rented to African-American business owners to build local entrepreneurship.
Wardell Jackson was near fatally shot in 1969 and after spending a total of twelve months in different hospitals, he returned home partially paralyzed and in a wheel chair. Charles Hursey, his assistant manager, took over as manager of the Eagles for the 1970 season. The Eagles struggled, however, to get the monetary backing they needed and the team dissolved after the 1970 season.
The following text comes from a 1983 portrait of Mr. Jackson:
Born on a plantation in Mississippi in 1907, Mr. Jackson came to Champaign in 1927 after living briefly in Memphis. He has worked in a garage, on the railroad, and on a boat on the Mississippi River, but is best known as the owner of the Champaign Eagles, a Black semi-pro baseball team. Now retired, he still loves the game. "If you don't turn on the baseball game, he gets mad," his sister says. "He wants to watch baseball on TV all the time."
Through the Years, African American History in Champaign County, Fall 2007 - Read online at eBlackCU: http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/21