|Image - Wikipedia|
By Grant Davies
On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play for a major league baseball team.
It was an historic moment and a great story. Since then, Jackie and his story have become part of American history. Not only was he a terrific ballplayer, but his employment also represented something good about human nature. Namely, eventually people will stop doing the wrong things in favor of doing the right things, even if it isn't on a timetable to our liking.
So you may be thinking to yourself, "Hey, I know what Jackie Robinson looked like, why the heck is the picture on the left of some other dude?" It's because, like a lot of the history that we are sure we know, it just ain't so. The picture is of a guy named ″Fleet″ Walker, and he was actually the first black man to break the color barrier, 63 years before Jackie.
"Fleet" was born Moses Fleetwood Walker in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, to the first black doctor in that town and his white wife. His parents saw to it that he was well educated, and after his high school graduation, he was recruited by the University of Michigan where he played ball in 1882. He was a hellava athlete.
"Fleet" played for the Toledo Blue Stockings (then a major league team) in 42 games between May 1st and September 4, in 1884. He played catcher in a time they didn't even wear gloves, much less any other protective equipment. He batted .261 and scored 24 runs, but he was injury prone and he ended up going back to the minor leagues where he played for several other teams. His brother, Welday Walker, joined him on the team for a time, so as it turns out, Jackie Robinson wasn't even the second black player in the big leagues.
Moses's later life was even more successful than his baseball career. He owned a hotel and a movie theater and even published his own newspaper. He also received a patent for an exploding artillery shell and filed for patents on several other inventions.
In 1891, he was attacked by a group of white men in Syracuse, NY and he stabbed a man named Patrick Murray in the groin (a fatal injury) while defending himself. He was charged with second degree murder, but was acquitted of the charge by an all white jury. That didn't happen too often back then.
In celebration of his life, this site is declaring this day a national holiday. So take the day off work and go to a ball game. If your boss asks you where you were, just say "Oh, you didn't know? It's Moses Walker Day!"