Walpole Island’s Ed Pinnance, One Of The First Indigenous Major League Baseball Players
When we list influential athletes from the area, Fergie Jenkins comes to mind, and Pinnance belongs in the same discussion.
Nicknamed “Peanuts,” the Walpole Island product was one of the first Indigenous athletes to play professional baseball in Major League Baseball (MLB).
Pinnance played for the Philadelphia Athletics during the 1903 season. In his first appearance, the right handed pitcher suited up for the Athletics against the Washington Senators.
At the time, Pinnance was only 22-years-old. He played 7 innings for the Philadelphia Athletics, striking out 2 batters, and finishing with a 2.57 ERA. He earned a save in his lone decision, and allowed only 5 hits in the 7 innings he played.
Prior to his stint in the Major Leagues, Pinnance survived Shingwauk Indian Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Following this, he went to the Michigan Agricultural College, which later became Michigan State University, playing for their baseball team.
Pinnance played his first professional baseball games for the Lawyers in Mount Clements, Michigan. He later played for Nashua and New Lebanon in the New England League. It was while he was playing in New Lebanon that he received the call to play for the Philadelphia Athletics, who are now the modern day Oakland A’s.
Later in his career, Pinnance played professional for Portland in the Pacific Coast League, Amsterdam and Troy in the New York State League, Bay City in the Southern Michigan League, and Davenport in the III League.
After his baseball career, Pinnance returned home to live and farm on Walpole and Squirrel Islands. He passed away in 1944.
Prior to Pinnance, only three Indigenous athletes had competed in Major League Baseball, including Louis Sockalexis (1897), Bill Phyle (1898), and Chief Bender (1903).