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Who was the first African-American player to play in MLB? Why is he called undefeated?

Moses Fleetwood Walker played in the minor leagues until 1889, and was the last African-American to participate on the major league level.

Moses Fleetwood Walker

Moses Fleetwood “Fleet” Walker was an American professional baseball catcher who, historically, was known to be the first black man to play in Major League Baseball (MLB). Born on October 7, 1856, Walker played for a few played for semi-professional and minor league baseball clubs before joining the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association (AA) for the 1884 season.

The Ohio native Moses Fleetwood was the first one to be open about his black heritage, and to face the racial bigotry that was so prevalent back in the late 19th century in the United States. For those who don’t know, Moses’ brother, Weldy, became the second black athlete to do likewise later in the same year, which also was for the Toledo ball club. He played just one season, 42 games total, for Toledo before injuries entailed his release.

“The Moses Fleetwood Walker story is about a constant need to fight for justice, equality and freedom”

Moses Fleetwood Walker was associated with Toledo Blue Stockings

“The Moses Fleetwood Walker story is an American story about a constant need to fight for justice, equality and freedom,” said state Rep. David Leland of Columbus, Ohio, who reintroduced legislation Feb. 13 with fellow state Rep. “Hopefully, my colleagues in the Senate and House will agree with me that this is an important part of American history that we need to remember.”

On the other hand, The Toledo Blade wrote: “Walker has played more games and has been of greater value behind the bat than any catcher in the league.” 

“When he played, there were Jim Crow laws. They spiked him. They spit on him. They did everything they could. There was open discrimination, and he still played,” said state Rep. Michael Ashford of Toledo, the minority whip of the Ohio House of Representatives.

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