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SKU 00023
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Everyone knows that Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player to end the unwritten "code," which maintained the professional game as a 'white" only sport at the major league level. That was back in 1947 when Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But was Robinson the first black professional baseball player? Historical evidence suggests otherwise. In 1884, playing for the Toledo Mud Hens in the old American Association, Moses Fleetwood Walker became the first black major leaguer. As was true of Robinson, Walker endured the vicious prejudice of his day, not only from the fans and the media, but also from his own teammates. As with Robinson, he found a way to transcend the bigotry of his day by his play on the field, and also as an inventor, a legitimate theater owner, a newspaper owner and editor, and as the author of the most important political treaties on race relations by any professional athlete, black or white. And he did this against a courtroom backdrop where his life hung in the balance for murdering a white man in a desperate altercation. Unlike Robinson's career and later professional life,, Walker's life story was essentially written out of our baseball lore, and almost totally lost in our history. But it is a neglected story worth noting in our continuous effort to offer all Americans an equal opportunity on the baseball paths of life.

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