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Baseball trailblazer inspires statue campaign

A nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the legacy of Louis Sockalexis as the first Native American to play professional baseball announced plans to erect a statue in his honor

BANGOR (NEWS CENTER Maine) — A memorial statue is the goal of a new campaign to honor a Mainer who broke ground for minorities in baseball.

A Penobscot from Indian Island, Louis Sockalexis is believed to be the first Native American to play professional baseball. He played in Cleveland, and he's been credited as the source of the Indians nickname, which the team adopted two years after his death in 1915.

The Friends of Sockalexis are a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving his legacy. They announced their plans on Thursday to begin raising money to immortalize Sockalexis by casting his likeness in bronze.

"He's a legendary baseball player, and the things that he did were incredible," said Ed Rice who wrote a book about Sockalexis. "He was a civil rights icon, there's no question about that. What he withstood in the 1897 season is exactly what Jackie Robinson withstood. We should be recognizing him just for that."

Along with many other details about the statue, its future location remains up for discussion.

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