April/May 2012 •
GOOD TIMES –
By Paul Niemann
As baseball season begins, this is a goodtime to start talking about baseball in thisolumn. This week’s story is about a long-forgotten pioneer in baseball history.His name was Moses Fleetwood Walker,and his place in baseball history is as perma-nent as it is unknown. Moses accomplishedsomething that no other player did prior tohim, and no other ballplayer can possibly doin the future.Moses Walker (1857 – 1924) was born inMount Pleasant, Ohio. He made his majorleague debut as a catcher in 1884 for the To-ledo Blue Stockings, more than 63 years be-fore Jackie Robinson made his major leagueebut in 1947. The Toledo Blue Stockingswere part of the American Association,which was one of the major leagues at thattime. In case your knowledge of baseballhistory does not include the American As-sociation, the league included such teams asthe Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, the Cincin-nati Red Stockings, the Philadelphia A’s andthe St. Louis Browns, among others. Therewere teams called the Baltimore Orioles andthe Washington Senators, too, but they werenot the same organizations as they are to-ay.
What is the signicance of having Moses
Walker’s debut compared to that of JackieRobinson?
Read on and you’ll nd out. There is
more to Moses’ story than just baseball,though.In April of 1891, he was attacked by sev-ral men in Syracuse, New York. During theattack, he stabbed and killed one of the men.The other men then chased Moses whileshouting “Kill him, kill him.”Moses Walker was black, and his attack-ers were white. He escaped but when he waslater caught by the police, he was chargedwith second-degree murder. Claiming self-defense, he was acquitted by the all-white jury. When the verdict was announced, thecourthouse erupted with cheers for Walker.So why compare Moses Walker to Jackie
Robinson, who is regarded as the rst Af
-rican American to play major league base-ball?It’s because Moses Walker -- not Jack-
ie Robinson -- was the rst black baseball
player in the major leagues. Before MosesWalker played, there was no color barrierin baseball, but there was after he played.The color barrier started soon after Walkerarrived in the major leagues.
So Jackie Robinson was the secondblack baseball player in the major leagues,right?Nope; that honor belongs to MosesWalker’s brother, Welday Walker, whoplayed three games that same season in1884. Jackie Robinson was third, even
though he is regarded as the rst African
American to play major league baseball.As I’ve said many times in this column,history doesn’t always happen the way youremember it.
Baseball history doesn’t alwayshappen the way you remember.
Those Were The Days
Restaurant and Lounge
FAMILY FRIENDLYATMOSPHEREWITH AEUROPEAN TWIST
Open T-W-Th-Sat. at 4 p.m.Fri. & Sun. at 11 a.m.229 W. Fifth St.Delphos, Ohio
419-692-8888 or 419-692-8751
APRIL PIZZA SPECIAL
& CHEESE STUFFED
(Addition items only $1.00 each)
PRIME RIB &1/2 GREEK-STYLE CHICKEN
• Chicken Bacon Ranch• Reuben Pizza
•Exhaust • Tires • Brakes • Alignments
Lloyd’s Auto Service
Quality • Experience • Satisfaction Guaranteed
707 E. Main Street • Van Wert, Ohio 45891 • 419-238-3583
Moses WalkerMoses Fleetwood Walker (far left, middle row) pictured here in an 1881 teamphoto of the Oberlin (Ohio) College team (back row second from right is Welday
Walker, Moses' brother), is the rst black major league player.