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Black History

Moses Fleetwood Walker; Baseball’s True First

Moses Fleetwood Walker (1856–1924) took the field against the Louisville Eclipse on May 1, 1884, making him the first African American to play in a professional baseball game. According to baseball historians, it was the worst game of Walker’s career, as he went hitless in four at-bats and committed four errors. Still, the native of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and star athlete at Oberlin College went on to have a brief (September 1884) yet successful career with the Blue Stockings.

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Moses Fleetwood Walker, circa 1884. From the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Moses Fleetwood Walker, circa 1884. From the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

By Tamara Shiloh

Some 63 years before Jackie Robinson is credited as the first African American in Major League Baseball (April 15, 1947), Moses Fleetwood Walker (1856–1924) became the true first to break the sport’s color barrier.

The American Association (today, the American League) was formed at the opening of the 1884 baseball season. Their goal was to be in competition with the National League. The Toledo Blue Stockings were added as one of the league’s participating franchises. The starting catcher would be Walker.

Walker took the field against the Louisville Eclipse on May 1, 1884, making him the first African American to play in a professional baseball game. According to baseball historians, it was the worst game of Walker’s career, as he went hitless in four at-bats and committed four errors.

Still, the native of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and star athlete at Oberlin College went on to have a brief (September 1884) yet successful career with the Blue Stockings.

Walker was the last African American to participate on the major league level before Robinson.

Prior to the Blue Stockings, Walker played for semi-professional and minor league baseball clubs. But how Walker first came to the game is unknown. According to David W. Zang, Walker’s biographer, baseball was popular among children in Steubenville where he was raised. While in Oberlin’s preparatory program, Walker became the prep team’s catcher and leadoff hitter.

Oberlin men played baseball as early as 1865, including a “jet-black” first baseman whose presence suggested Walker was not the college’s first Black baseball player.

After baseball, Walker’s personal life seemed overrun with friction.

In 1891, he was involved in an altercation outside a saloon with a group of four white men exchanging racial insults. One of them hit Walker in the head with a stone. Walker then fatally stabbed his attacker with a pocketknife.

He surrendered to the police and was charged with second-degree murder but was later found not guilty. After, Walker returned to Steubenville where he had worked for the postal service.

Walker’s wife, Arbella, died in 1895. Three years later he was found guilty of mail robbery and sentenced to one year in prison, which he served in the Miami County and Jefferson County jails in Troy, Ohio.

After his release, he jointly owned the Union Hotel in Steubenville with his brother Weldy and managed the Opera House, a movie theater in nearby Cadiz, Ohio. Walker soon gained respect as a businessman in the community. Walker later patented inventions that improved film reels when nickelodeons became popularized. He was a staunch advocate of Black nationalism and jointly edited a newspaper, The Equator, with Weldy. He authored “Our Home Colony” to explore ideas about emigrating back to Africa.

Walker died of lobar pneumonia in 1924. He was 67.

Learn more about the two Black athletes who helped integrate Major League Baseball and the challenges they faced in “Jackie Robinson and Moses Fleetwood Walker: The Lives and Careers of the Players Who Integrated Major League Baseball” by the Charles Rivers Editors.

About Tamara Shiloh

Tamara Shiloh has published the first two books in her historical fiction chapter book series, Just Imagine…What If There Were No Black People in the World is about African American inventors, scientists and other notable Black people in history. The two books are Jaxon’s Magical Adventure with Black Inventors and Scientists and Jaxon and Kevin’s Black History Trip Downtown. Tamara Shiloh has also written a book a picture book for Scholastic, Cameron Teaches Black History, that will be available in June, 2022. Tamara Shiloh’s other writing experiences include: writing the Black History column for the Post Newspaper in the Bay area, Creator and Instruction of the black History Class for Educators a professional development class for teachers and her non-profit offers a free Black History literacy/STEM/Podcast class for kids 3d – 8th grade which also includes the Let’s Go Learn Reading and Essence and tutorial program.   She is also the owner of the Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts, in Richmond, California, Previously in her early life she was the /Editor-in-Chief of Desert Diamonds Magazine, highlighting the accomplishments of minority women in Nevada; assisting with the creation, design and writing of a Los Angeles-based, herbal magazine entitled Herbal Essence; editorial contribution to Homes of Color; Editor-in-Chief of Black Insight Magazine, the first digital, interactive magazine for African Americans; profile creations for sports figures on the now defunct PublicFigure.com; newsletters for various businesses and organizations; and her own Las Vegas community newsletter, Tween Time News, a monthly publication highlighting music entertainment in the various venues of Las Vegas. She is a member of:
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
  • Richmond Chamber of Commerce
  • Point Richmond Business Association
  • National Association of Professional Women (NAPW)
  • Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA)
  • California Writers Club-Berkeley & Marin
  • Richmond CA Kiwanis
  • Richmond CA Rotary
  • Bay Area Girls Club
Tamara Shiloh, a native of Northern California, has two adult children, one grandson and four great-grand sons. She resides in Point Richmond, CA with her husband, Ernest. www.multiculturalbookstore.com

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Black History

Ketanji Brown Jackson Sworn In as Newest Supreme Court Justice

Replacing Breyer, Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S. and will assume duties immediately, but her formal investiture will occur in the fall.

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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S.

On Thursday June 30, 2022, Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, was sworn in by one of her mentors, Justice Steven Breyer, while her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, held both the family Bible and one donated to the Supreme Court in 1906. Replacing Breyer, Brown Jackson made history as the first African American woman to serve on the highest court in the U.S. and will assume duties immediately, but her formal investiture will occur in the fall.

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Black History

OPINION: Black Women Will Suffer Harshest Consequences After the Overturn of Roe

The impact of new abortion bans and restrictions will be felt most acutely by poor and working-class Black women — Black women are significantly more likely to live in poverty compared to white women. For these women, the overturning of Roe won’t mean that abortions will end; it will mean that access to critical, potentially life-saving healthcare will move hundreds of miles out of reach. It will mean time off of work (likely unpaid) and travel and childcare costs — expenses that may not be possible for women living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to simply put meals on the table.

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Glynda Carr is president and CEO of Higher Heights for America.
Glynda Carr is president and CEO of Higher Heights for America.

By Glynda Carr

The Supreme Court just dealt a devastating blow to reproductive rights. With its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, five Republican-appointed Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court swept away half a century of progress and eviscerated women’s rights and equality. After last month’s leaked opinion, we knew this moment could come, but that doesn’t make the news any easier to digest.

For Black women in this country, the decision is especially devastating. Thirteen percent of American women are Black, but 38% of people receiving abortion care are Black. Abortion is necessary healthcare — and a lack of access can quite literally mean life or death for many Black women. This is especially true for Black women who have lower incomes, live in rural areas, and do not have access to health care because of systemic racism and discrimination.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women and are more likely to face maternal health issues. With new abortion restrictions and bans, these health outcomes are expected to get even worse: a 2021 Duke University study estimated the potential death toll following a total abortion ban and found a 33% increase in Black women who died due to pregnancy-related complications.

The states that are already moving to ban abortion are among those with the largest Black populations in the country. Consider Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage of Black residents in the nation, and one of the 13 states with a “trigger law” that ensured the decision would result in a near-immediate ban on abortion access. Three other states with the highest proportion of Black residents — Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas — have these trigger laws in place, and many other states, especially in the South, are moving to severely restrict or outright ban abortion.

The impact of new abortion bans and restrictions will be felt most acutely by poor and working-class Black women — Black women are significantly more likely to live in poverty compared to white women. For these women, the overturning of Roe won’t mean that abortions will end; it will mean that access to critical, potentially life-saving healthcare will move hundreds of miles out of reach. It will mean time off of work (likely unpaid) and travel and childcare costs — expenses that may not be possible for women living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to simply put meals on the table.

At a time like this, when daughters suddenly have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers, it is challenging to imagine a way forward. But the answer is to do everything we can to restore our rights and ensure every woman has access to the healthcare they need and deserve, a right afforded to them under our nation’s Constitution.

To do that, we need to elect and elevate more Black women. Black women have been at the forefront of the fight to protect and expand reproductive rights — from members of Congress like Reps. Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, and Lauren Underwood, to our first Black woman Vice President Kamala Harris, to soon-to-be-seated Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

We must elect Stacey Abrams to lead the state of Georgia — one of the states that is now positioned to severely restrict — or overturn the right to access abortion care under the leadership of their current governor, Brian Kemp.

And finally, we need to not only encourage, but throw our unwavering support behind more Black women from all across the country to run for office — women who personally understand the deep impact that a lack of healthcare and abortion restrictions have on communities that have lacked fair representation for far too long.

Today and every day, I stand with my partners and allies ready to continue the critical fight for access to affordable, safe, legal abortions for all women, no matter where they live, how they identify, or how much money they have. We will not back down.

Glynda Carr is president and CEO of Higher Heights for America, the only national organization providing Black women with a political home exclusively dedicated to harnessing their power to expand Black women’s elected representation and voting participation, and advance progressive policies.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.

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Bay Area

Oakland Mayor Greets Old Friend at Lakefest

Both Oakland natives, Jones and Schaaf became acquainted when the mayor was an Oakland City Councilmember representing District 4. Back then Jones taught her his breathing/aerobics exercises at his fitness studio in the Laurel District, which the mayor has utilized ever since, and which has been an invaluable tool in contributing to her overall health and wellness.

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Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

At Oakland’s Third Annual LakeFest celebration on June 25, 2022, Oakland Post Ambassador Jonathan ‘Fitness’ Jones ran into longtime friend and supporter Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

As Schaaf exited the stage after making remarks at an event touting Oakland culture through music, dance, fashion, food and more, she greeted Jones by demonstrating his highly acclaimed “breathing aerobics” technique.

Both Oakland natives, Jones and Schaaf became acquainted when the mayor was an Oakland City Councilmember representing District 4. Back then Jones taught her his breathing/aerobics exercises at his fitness studio in the Laurel District, which the mayor has utilized ever since, and which has been an invaluable tool in contributing to her overall health and wellness.

With over 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field, Jones is a member of the African American Sports & Entertainment Group and creator of Breathing Aerobics, a health and wellness company that specializes in teaching specific breathing exercises to improve overall health. He has taught Breathing Aerobics on major television and radio stations, which has earned him the moniker, “Guru of Breathing.”

For more info on Breathing Aerobics go to www.breathingaerobics.com

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