Baseball is a popular sport in the United States and around the world, and the first African American to play in a professional baseball game was Moses Fleetwood Walker. Walker was an American baseball catcher who played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884. He was the first African American to play professional baseball and is recognized as an important figure in the history of African American athletes. In this article, we will discuss the life and career of Walker, and the impact he had on the game of baseball.
Early Life and Education
Moses Fleetwood Walker was born on October 7, 1856 in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, to parents Caroline and Moses Walker, Sr. His father was a former slave who had escaped to Ohio, and his mother was a school teacher. Walker was the oldest of eight children and was educated at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he graduated in 1881 with a degree in classics.
Early Baseball Career
Walker began his baseball career in 1883, when he joined the minor league team, the Oberlin Ohio Independents. He played for the team for two years, and in 1884 he signed with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association (AA). He was the first African American to play professional baseball, and the team went on to win the AA pennant.
Catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings
Walker was the catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings, and he was an excellent player. He was a strong hitter, and had a .263 batting average in 1884. He was also a good defensive player, with a .927 fielding percentage. He was a leader on the team, and helped guide them to the AA pennant.
Racism and Discrimination
Walker faced a great deal of racism and discrimination during his time in baseball. He was the only African American on the team, and he was constantly taunted and harassed by opposing players and fans. He also faced hostility from other teams, as some refused to play against him because of his race. Despite the racism and discrimination, he persevered and continued to play the game he loved.
Leaving the Blue Stockings
In 1887, Walker left the Toledo Blue Stockings and signed with the minor league team, the Syracuse Stars. He played for the team for three years and was an important part of the team’s success. However, in 1890, the Stars folded and Walker was out of baseball.
Life After Baseball
After leaving the Stars, Walker moved to Steubenville, Ohio, where he opened a photography studio. He also wrote a book, titled Our Home Colony, which was about his experiences as an African American in baseball. He continued to pursue his passion for photography and wrote several articles for newspapers.
Walker was an important figure in the history of African American athletes, and he is remembered for his courage and perseverance in the face of racism and discrimination. He is recognized as the first African American to play professional baseball, and his legacy continues to live on in the game today.
Impact on Baseball
Walker’s career was an important part of the history of baseball and African American athletes. He was the first African American to play professional baseball, and his courage and determination were an inspiration to future generations of African American athletes. His impact can be seen in the number of African American players that have gone on to play in the major leagues.
Moses Fleetwood Walker was an important figure in the history of African American athletes and baseball. He was the first African American to play professional baseball, and his courage and determination in the face of racism and discrimination inspired future generations of African American athletes. His legacy continues to live on in the game today, and he will always be remembered as a pioneer in the sport of baseball.
- Tuttle, D. (2013). Moses Fleetwood Walker: The First Black Major League Baseball Player. McFarland & Company.
- Smith, L. (2013). Moses Fleetwood Walker: A Remarkable Life. BearManor Media.
- Lomax, M. (2006). Moses Fleetwood Walker: The Story of an Early Black Professional Baseball Player. McFarland & Company.