Thursday, February 25, 2010

Did You Know?

The name Moses Fleetwood Walker doesn't mean much to anyone other than devoted baseball historians, collectors of obscure knowledge, and fans of Oberlin College athletics. If you fall in one of these three categories, you'll know that "Fleet" Walker was the first African-American to play major league baseball, preceding Jackie Robinson by 63 years.

Walker enrolled at Oberlin College in 1877. In 1881, his last year at the college, he joined the first varsity baseball team as a bare-handed catcher. (The team was 3-0 that year.) In 1883 he joined the Toledo Blue Stockings of the Northwestern League...a year later, the club joined the American Association, a major league. He played in 42 games that year, hitting a respectable .263 and helping the Blue Stockings win the championship.

Responding to a 1920 alumni questionnaire, Walker summed up his experiences at Oberlin in one word: "excellent."

Walker was in the inaugural Heisman Club Hall of Fame class at Oberlin, inducted in 1990.

Interested in learning more? Read a newspaper article from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and an online entry from the Negro League Baseball Players Association.

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