Black History 365 – First African American to play professional baseball at the major-league level

Moses Fleetwood Walker Photo Source: Wikipedia

Moses Fleetwood Walker
Photo Source: Wikipedia

In 2016 for my Black History 365 series, I explore the obvious and not so obvious parts of American history that those called Black have taken part in. The things that we (Black people) have done other than be stolen from our homeland and made forced labor in a land foreign to us. I’m going to start this series by looking up the first time someone African-American did something and broke the color barrier in that activity or field. I’ll be starting with Wikipedia and working my way out:

I will be learning a lot of this as I go since I am a product of the standardized Euro/Anglo/Caucasian leaning public school system. I hope you enjoy learning with me. I’ll be going down the list chronologically as it appears in the Wikipedia article.

If you have any other sources or additional information for this topic, please share in the comments. I also welcome any and all comments and discussion. Thanks for reading!

From Wikipedia:

Moses Fleetwood “Fleet” Walker (October 7, 1856 – May 11, 1924) was an American baseball player, inventor, and author. He is credited by some with being the first African American to play Major League Baseball. Walker played one season as the catcher of the Toledo Blue Stockings, a club in the American Association. He then played in the minor leagues until 1889, when professional baseball erected a color barrier that stood for nearly 60 years. After leaving baseball, Walker became a businessman and advocate of Black nationalism.

Walker was born in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, the son of Dr. Moses W. Walker, the first African-American physician in Mount Pleasant, and his wife, a white woman. During his childhood, his family moved from Mount Pleasant, to Steubenville. Walker was educated in the black schools, until the schools in Steubenville were integrated. Both Moses and his brother Weldy attended Steubenville High School. He enrolled in Oberlin College in 1878 and played on the college’s first varsity baseball team in the spring of 1881. Walker was a star catcher for Oberlin.

Walker started in college ball and then minor leagues before joining the major leagues. He returned to minor leagues before the color line was drawn in baseball. After his sports career Walker was a Business owner and inventor. Walker applied for patents on several inventions for moving-picture equipment and even published a weekly newspaper.[9] Also in 1891, Walker received patents for an exploding artillery shell. He had an incident where he was attacked and charged for murder when he defended himself. Fortunately he was acquitted. He is also known for his activism and politics as a supporter of Black Nationalism. He died on May 11, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio, and is interred at Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio. (Read the full wiki article for more details on the facets of his life)

Walker has traditionally been credited as the first African-American major league player. However, research in the early 21st century by the Society for American Baseball Research indicates William Edward White, who played one game for the Providence Grays in 1879, may have been the first.

Regardless, if White only played one game in majors, Walker deserves the honor in history in my opinion





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