First African American in Professional Baseball

It’s true that Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, but he wasn’t the first African American in the Major Leagues. Toledo Blue Stockings’ Moses Fleetwood Walker entered the league in 1884, 63 years before Robinson. So why does this nation primarily celebrate the accomplishments of Robinson? Well, to start, Walker joined the majors, when there was an invisible color line. There weren’t any formal rules barring African Americans from playing the sport, however racism and prejudices from fans and teammates were still widespread. Also, Robinson is arguably one of the best players in the history of the game, whereas Walker was considered a great player, but only played in 42 career games and batted a lifetime .263. Walker’s accomplishment’s cannot be understated and is still considered a pioneer for baseball. It is widely documented that Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first African American in professional baseball.

Walker was born in Mount Pleasant and moved with his family to Steubenville at a young age. There he attended Steubenville High School. Following graduation, he enrolled at Oberlin College where he was a star catcher. Moses later transferred to Michigan. After college, Walker signed with the Toledo Blue Stockings, a minor league team in the Northwestern League. In 1884, the Blue Stockings joined the American Association, which was part of the Major Leagues. His first Major League season was cut short due to injuries. To make matters worse, the Toledo Blue Stockings folded after its only season in the American Association. The official color barrier in baseball was enacted shortly after.

 

First African American in Professional Baseball

Photo via: BleacherReport.com