Toledo Blue Stockings
1884: The Toledo Blue Stockings began to play as a minor league club, after winning the Northwest League Championship in 1883 they were invited to join the American Association. The addition of the Blue Stockings to the AA was notable because of their Catcher, Moses “Fleet” Walker. Walker who signed with the Blue Stockings after leaving the University of Michigan became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues. Later in the season, he would be joined by his brother Weldy Walker. It was a year of struggles for Toledo, as they finished in eighth place with a record of 46-58. Fleet Walker who was plagued by injuries most of the season hit .263 in 42 games. His brother Weldy Walker appeared in just five games and had an average of .222. Sam Barkley was the Blue Stockings top hitter, posting an average of .306. Tony Mullane was Toledo’s most successful pitcher with a record of 36-26 with an ERA of 2.52. Also notable was Hank O’Day who made his debut, posting a record of 9-28 with an ERA of 3.75. O’Day later went on to work as an Umpire and was elected to the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game. After just one season, the Blue Stockings returned to the Northwestern League, as the Fleet Walker and Weldy Walker never again played in the majors. After a few seasons in the minors, their careers ended quietly, as the lines of segregation were drawn. It would be 63 years before Jackie Robinson played with the Brooklyn Dodgers, making the Walker Brothers a sad footnote in baseball’s storied past. As no official rule was ever passed, but a gentleman’s agreement among the owners not to sign players of color prevented a great number of players from even getting a fair chance.
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Page created on August 14, 2017. Last updated on August 14, 2017 at 11:00 pm ET.