Moses Fleetwood Walker

It is common for people to believe that Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in major league baseball. There was actually an African American who played professional baseball in the late 1800s. It was a man named Moses Fleetwood Walker. He played from 1883 to 1889.

Black Heritage

There was an African American who played professional baseball before Moses Fleetwood Walker. The man’s name was William Edward White. His skin was so light, he successfully passed himself off a white man. Moses Fleetwood Walker is the first African American to be open about his African American heritage. This caused him to face significant racial bigotry that was very common during the late 19th century. Later in 1884, Walker’s brother became the second African American to play in major league baseball. His name was Weldy. In 1884, the Toledo team had a championship season. Walker play in 60 of the 84-game schedule for the team. He was considered a major contributor to their successful season.

Baseball Career

Walker was a regular player in the minor leagues until 1889. He is the last African American to play at the major league level until 1947. This is when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of major league baseball. It was a span of 58 years between Moses Fleetwood Walker and Jackie Robinson.

After Baseball

Walker was finished playing baseball in 1889. This is when he became a railway clerk with the postal service. Walker stabbed a white man in 1891, but a jury of 12 white men found him not guilty of second-degree murder. He then returned to work with the post office. In 1898, Walker was arrested and convicted of mail robbery. After moving to Steubenville, he became the manager of the Opera House near Cadiz, Ohio.


During the time Walker worked at the Opera House, he had a reputation for being a good businessman. He was also given three patents for inventions he created for changing movie reels. Walker also got a patent for an exploding artillery shell. He was a respected inventor.

Newspaper And Book

Walker and his brother Weldy began editing The Equator, which was newspaper focused on black Americans emigrating to Africa. Walker then wrote a book called Our Home Colony. It was released in 1908. A reviewer called it one of the most learned books ever written by a professional athlete.

Moses Fleetwood Walker passed away on May 11, 1925. He died at his home in Cleveland, Ohio. The cause of his death was pneumonia. Walker had two sons, a daughter and one grandchild when he passed away.