This is game 26 of the 2007 baseball season
In the first inning let’s take a look at This Week in Baseball History for the 1 week of May.
1884 In an American Association game against the Louisville Eclipse, Toledo Blue Stockings’ catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker becomes first black to play in the major leagues.
Moses Fleetwood Walker, nicknamed “Fleet,” was born October 7, 1857 in Mount Pleasant, Ohio.
He attended Oberlin College for three years and the University of Michigan for one, despite the fact that Oberlin did not even have a baseball team until his final year there.
Tall, slender, handsome, and intelligent, he became the first black player to play in the major leagues when he played 42 games with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association in 1884.
In 1884 Toledo joined the American Association, a professional baseball league now considered a major league by most baseball historians. When the Toledo club was admitted to the league it brought Walker, their regular catcher, into the league. He was a fair singles hitter whose .263 average that year was 23 points above the league average. He was fine bare-handed catcher with a strong arm, and a fast and daring baserunner.
Walker made his major league baseball debut on May 1, 1884 versus the Louisville Eclipse. His brother, Welday Walker later joined him on the team, playing in 6 games.
Walker had his only major league season interrupted by a July injury, played sparingly thereafter, and was released in September. Toledo folded following the season, and Walker played the next two seasons in weaker minor leagues. He joined Newark of International League in 1887, forming, with star George Stovey, the first black battery in organized baseball.
That July 14, Chicago manager Cap Anson prevented the two stars from playing against his team in an exhibition and led league directors to ban blacks, although this was officially reversed. Newark folded after the season, and Walker spent the next two seasons in the International League with Syracuse, helping them to the championship in 1889, his last season.
Shortly thereafter, the American Association and the National League both unofficially banned African-American players. Baseball would remain segregated until 1946.
Walker was attacked by a group of white men in Syracuse, New York in April, 1891. Walker stabbed and killed a man during the attack. Walker was charged with second-degree murder and claimed self-defense. He was acquitted of all charges on June 3, 1891.
Later in life, after leaving baseball, he became a businessman, inventor, newspaper editor, and author. Embittered, he became an advocate of racial separation, supporting a “back to Africa” policy for American blacks.
In 1908 his book Our Home Colony advocated black emigration to Africa as the best response to increasing racial intolerance.
He warned, quote, “The Negro race will be a menace and the source of discontent as long as it remains in large numbers in the United States. The time is growing very near when the whites of the United States must either settle this problem by deportation, or else be willing to accept a reign of terror such as the world has never seen in a civilized country.” Unquote.
He also published a newspaper called The Equator.
Moses Fleetwood Walker died May 11, 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio.
In this inning we’ll open up the Baseball Dictionary
Under the letter: O
An at-bat that is entered in the official record of the game and used as the basis for batting statistics.
Four types of plate appearance are not counted as official at-bats: when the batter is:
a) awarded a base on balls
b) hit by a pitched ball
c) awarded first base because of catchers interference, and
d) hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly.
For those of you that want to stick around, here’s an
As a footnote to the Fleet Walker story, recent research 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 black major league baseball player.
William Edward White was the son of a white former slaveholder from Georgia and his mixed-race mistress. White attended college at Brown University where he also played varsity baseball. He filled in for one game for the Grays on June 21, 1879 when the Providence team was short-handed.
It is unclear, however, if White’s contemporaries in Rhode Island knew of his racial background. White’s race is never mentioned in any accounts of his baseball exploits at Brown or with Providence. Furthermore, the 1880 census indicate his race as “white.” He may have been passing as a white man during his time in Rhode Island.
You can email me at email@example.com. Transcripts of the game can be found at baseballhistorypodcast.blogspot.com. Well, that’s it for today’s game of Baseball History Podcast. I’ll see you later at the ballpark.
Baseball Dictionary- Official At Bat