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1930s & Earlier / Moses Walker Predated Jackie Robinson
Everybody knows that Jackie Robinson was the first black major league baseball player, right? Wrong--by 63 years! Moses Fleetwood (Fleet) Walker, a barehanded catcher, played 42 games for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association way back in 1884 when the AA was a major league. Walker's presence on the team created considerable controversy. Walker was subjected to death threats and snubbed by his own teammates. His brother Welday joined the team for a while too, appearing in five games as an outfielder. However, with owners, players and fans all showing open hostility toward blacks, the major league moguls made a 'gentleman's agreement' not to sign any more black players after 1884. This tacit pact stood until Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on opening day 1947.