Before a “gentleman’s agreement” among League owners upheld Jim Crow segregation in the national pastime until 1947, Moses Fleetwood Walker is credited with being one of the first black men to play in Major League Baseball (MLB). A native of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and a star athlete at Oberlin College as well as the University of Michigan, Walker played for semi-professional and minor league baseball clubs before joining the Toledo Blue Stockings for their 1884 season—the year they joined the major league American Association (AA). The Blue Stockings finished 8th with a 46-58 record in 1884. The team returned to the minors the next year and disbanded after the 1885 season.
Walker played in the minor leagues until 1889, and was the last African-American to participate on the major league level before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color line in 1947. After his baseball career, he became a successful businessman, newspaper editor, inventor and advocate of Black nationalism.
During the period of segregation in baseball, African American stars like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Buck O’Neill earned a living playing for Negro League teams like the Kansas City Monarchs, Homestead Grays, and the Newark Eagles.
Join the Toledo History Museum as we host a forum of local baseball historians discussing Fleet Walker and Negro Leagues Baseball. Forum guests include local baseball historian, John Husman; Detroit baseball historian, Gary Gillette; Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown, the daughter of "Turkey" Stearnes, one of the greatest players in Negro Leagues history, and Ron Teasley, a 91-year-old former Negro Leagues player for the New York Cubans.