Ontario 1948 Snapshots     

Fred Thomas ought to have been recognized as one of Canada's best-ever athletes back in the 1940s and 1950s.

He was, however, a Black man in sports in North America in that era and there was no seat at the table. He'd be lucky to be allowed to enter the room.

Thomas, born in 1923 in Windsor, Ontario, was  a three-sport star - basketball, baseball and football.

As time moved on and Blacks won a measure of acceptance, Thomas began to receive long-overdue recognition.

In 2021, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. That honour goes along with induction in the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, the Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame, Windsor/Essex Sports Hall of Fame and the University of  Windsor Alumni Sports Hall of Fame,

Thomas was the first Black Canadian to sign with a major league baseball team when he joined the Cleveland organization in 1948 and was the first Black in the Eastern League. He had earlier played Negro league ball with Cincinnati and Detroit teams before a stint in Quebec's Provincial League. Later, in the 1950s he starred in Ontario's Intercounty League with teams in Kitchener, Galt and Oshawa. In 1951 he led the league in hitting with a robust .381.

Among his accomplishments was suiting up with farm teams of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters of basketball (this was after Thomas' university team defeated the high flying 'Trotters in an exhibition game).

In 1949 he added to his sports resume playing football for the Toronto Argonauts of what became the Canadian Football League. 

Also see :

A more detailed story on Wikipedia.

TVO  (TV Ontario)  item "The greatest Canadian athlete you’ve never heard of".

and, one on Canada Basketball  "Fred Thomas: Canada's Forgotten Legend".

Basketball photo from the Harlem Globetrotters, the "Jets" photo from the Windsor Star (ironically when he played softball in Windsor), Kitchener baseball photo from Wikipedia and football photo from the Windsor Star.