Sponsors state Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced the Senate passage of their legislation designating October 7 as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio to honor the nation’s first professional African American baseball player.
“Honoring Moses ‘Fleetwood’ Walker is more than just honoring a baseball player, because anytime we recognize and celebrate the fight for equality in our society, it moves the whole country forward,” said Leland, who also serves on the board of trustees for the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Indians’ Triple A farm team.
An Ohio native, Walker became recognized for his catching and batting skills, and quickly gained notoriety while playing baseball in college. He attended Oberlin College in 1877 and played on the school’s first varsity baseball team.
“While Jackie Robinson is usually credited with being the first African American player to play professional baseball, it was actually Walker who first courageously broke the color barrier more than 60 years earlier,” said West. “While we can never right the injustices experienced by Moses, by designating October 7th as Fleetwood Moses Walker Day, we can properly honor the legacy of a pioneer for civil rights. I strongly encourage Governor Kasich to sign this bill into law.”
He began his professional baseball career with the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1883, but his career was cut short in 1889 when both the American Association and the National League unofficially banned African American players. It was not until 1947 when the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson finally broke the color barrier.
This legislation received wide bipartisan support, passed out of the House of Representatives and unanimously passed out of the Senate. It now heads to the Governor for his signature into law.