Hens To Celebrate First African-American Major Leaguer

Posted May 11th, 2009 by Jason Griffin  Category: Sports,


TOLEDO – The Toledo Mud Hens are pleased to announce that they will celebrate the first African-American major league baseball player on “Legacy of Diversity Night” on Thursday, May 14 at Fifth Third Field.

On May 1, 1884 Moses “Fleetwood” Walker became the first African-American man to appear in a major league baseball game when Toledo opened the season at Louisville. On May 14, 1884, with Walker in the line-up, the Toledos played the first major league game in the city. Louisville won 5-1 before 3,500 fans at League Park on Monroe Street between 13th and 15th streets.

Walker was a student and baseball player at Oberlin College and the University of Michigan. The bare-handed catcher signed to play professionally with the Toledos of the Northwestern League in 1883. The Toledo club won the league’s pennant that year, and, due to that success, was admitted to the major league American Association for the 1884 season. Due to injury, Walker was released by the Toledo club on September 22, 1884. He continued to play professionally through the 1889 season and was the last African-American player in a high-level integrated league until the mid-twentieth century.

On May 14, 2009 at Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo, two members of Walker’s family will help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Toledo’s first major league game and Fleet Walker establishing himself as the first African-American man to appear in major league baseball. Great grandnephew Mark Palmer of Steubenville, Ohio will catch (barehanded as his ancestor did) the ceremonial first pitch which will be thrown by his son, Mark, Jr.

**The ceremonial first pitch is scheduled to take place at 6:15 pm on the field following a video highlighting Moses “Fleetwood” Walker.

For tickets to the game, call (419) 725-HENS (4367) or log on to

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