Celebrating Black history month: William “Hipple” Galloway, Canada’s first Black baseball player

From Haldimand Museums

To The Haldimand Press

William Galloway was born in Buffalo, New York on March 24, 1882. Galloway’s mother was Julia Sims; his father was William Galloway. When he was six years old, his family moved to Dunnville, residing on Alder Street.

Galloway attended school in Dunnville, where he developed into an outstanding athlete, excelling in baseball and hockey. In 1897, he was an outfielder for Dunnville’s very strong baseball team, which competed against teams all across southwestern Ontario. At the end of the 1897 season the team was declared the amateur champions of Canada.

By 1898, the Dunnville team became part of the professional ranks, but it began to struggle. Lack of fans and financial issues led Galloway to leave the team and join the Woodstock Bains, which were part of a three-team Brantford and Woodstock league.

Headshot courtesy of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Galloway became the first Black Canadian player in organized baseball, however, he continued to face major obstacles. He was Black at a time when many Canadians were racist. Despite this, he continued to be a star player for his Woodstock team, helping them become league champions. Galloway hit his first homerun with the team on July 23, 1898. After heading home to Dunnville for the winter, Galloway returned to Woodstock for the 1899 ball season.

Galloway started on third base and was an elite player on the team. However, the racist taunts he faced from the crowds and players on other teams affected his performance; there were also a number of teams that refused to play against him. This resulted in the Woodstock Bains releasing him from the team. Galloway was the last Black player in Canadian organized baseball until Jackie Robinson in 1946.

Galloway next signed with the Woodstock City Club for one season, where he again excelled. In 1900, he joined the Cuban X-Giants, a Black independent team which travelled across Canada and the US. Galloway played for them through the 1906 season. 

DUNNVILLE—William Galloway moved to Dunnville when he was six years old, and there he would develop his skills in hockey and baseball. Pictured above, he stands (back row, centre) with the Woodstock Bains baseball team.
—Team photos courtesy of Woodstock Museum National Historic Site.

Galloway was also an excellent hockey player. In 1898, he joined the Woodstock team in the Central Ontario Hockey Association (COHA), part of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). He played his first game on January 20, 1899 and, by mid-1899, he was considered one of the top players in the COHA. Galloway, along with Stratford’s Charlie Lightfoot, became two of the first Black players in the OHA.

Galloway was  known for his “speed and agility”. The Brantford Expositor, March 13, 1889 issue reported, “Galloway on the forward line was also conspicuous…. He is a fast skater and his rushes down the sides were a feature of the game.” A Woodstock paper noted: “Galloway is a right good sport and thoroughly game player. He withstood all kinds of punishment in Hamilton last week and fairly won his spurs. As a player he is cool and collected, so essential to hockey.”

  Unfortunately, when Galloway tried to return to the Woodstock hockey team after the 1899 baseball season, he was deemed ineligible because he was considered a professional athlete. In 1904, Galloway played in Wingham, in the Northern Hockey League. He helped the team achieve back-to-back championships.

Galloway married Gladys Dancey, from Hamilton,  in 1902. The couple settled in Woodstock,  and had seven children. In 1908, Galloway went to work at the Industrial Institute in Woodstock  as a labourer. By 1921, he had relocated his family to Hamilton and found work as a machinist. He later moved back to Buffalo, where he worked as a tinsmith prior to his death. Galloway died in 1943 at the age 60.

  In 2021 William was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. 

This column is in partnership with Haldimand Museums. Do you have an idea for a future column that you’d like Wade to research? If so, email museums@haldimandcounty.on.ca with your suggestion.

Sources: baseballhalloffame.ca/hall-of-famer/william-hipple-galloway; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippo_Galloway; greatesthockeylegends.com/2007/02/history-of-black-hockey.html

hockeycentral.co.uk/nhl/other/Black-Hockey-History.php; thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/william-hipple-galloway; Grand Heritage: A History of Dunnville, and the Township of Canborough, Dunn, Moulton, Sherbrooke and South Cayuga; Cheryl MacDonald, Editor and Dunnville District Heritage Association.