Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first black American to play baseball in a major league. He achieved college baseball stardom at Oberlin College in the 1880s. Teammates as well as opponents harassed him; Cap Anson, the Chicago White Stockings star, is blamed for driving Walker and the few other blacks in the major leagues out of the game, but he could not have done so alone.
A gifted athlete, inventor, civil rights activist, author, and entrepreneur, Walker lived precariously along America’s racial fault lines. He died in 1924, thwarted in ambition and talent and frustrated by both the American dream and the national pastime.
David W. Zang has taught sports studies and American studies at the University of Maryland, The Pennsylvania State University, and Towson University.