Walker signed with the minor league Northwestern League Toledo Blue Stockings in , a time in which few catchers wore any equipment, including gloves. Walker had his first encounter with Cap Anson that year, when Toledo played an exhibition game against the Chicago White Stockings on August 10. Anson refused to play with Walker on the field. Manager Charlie Morton played Walker, and told Anson the White Stockings would forfeit the gate receipts if they refused to play. Anson then agreed to play.
In Toledo joined the American Association, which was a Major League at that time in competition with the National League. Walker made his Major League debut on May 1 versus the Louisville Eclipse. His brother, Welday Walker, later joined him on the team, playing in six games.
Walker's teammate and star pitcher, Tony Mullane, stated Walker "was the best catcher I ever worked with, but I disliked a Negro and whenever I had to pitch to him I used to pitch anything I wanted without looking at his signals.
Walker suffered a season-ending injury in July, and Toledo ended the year going out of business. Walker returned to the minor leagues in , and played in the Western League for Cleveland, which folded in June. He then played for Waterbury in the Eastern League though .
In Walker moved to the International League Newark Little Giants. He caught for star pitcher George Stovey, forming the first known African-American battery. On July 14, the Chicago White Stockings played an exhibition game against the Little Giants. Contrary to some modern-day writers, Anson did not have a second encounter with Walker that day (Walker was apparently injured, having last played on July 11, and did not play again until July 26). But Stovey had been listed as the game's scheduled starting pitcher, in the Newark News of July 14. Only days after the game was it reported (in the Newark Sunday Call) that, "Stovey was expected to pitch in the Chicago game. It was announced on the ground that he was sulking, but it has since been given out that Anson objected to a colored man playing. If this be true, and the crowd had known it, Mr. Anson would have received hisses instead of the applause that was given him when he first stepped to the bat." On the morning of the day of game, International League owners had voted 6-to-4 to exclude African-American players from future contracts.
In the off-season, the International League modified its ban on black players, and Walker signed with the Syracuse, New York franchise for . In September 1888, Walker did have his second incident with Anson. When Chicago was at Syracuse for an exhibition game, Anson refused to start the game when he saw Walker's name on the scorecard as catcher. "Big Anson at once refused to play the game with Walker behind the bat on account of the Star catcher’s color," the Syracuse Herald said. Syracuse relented and someone else did the catching.
Walker remained in Syracuse until the team released him in July .
Shortly thereafter, the American Association and the National League both unofficially banned African-American players, making the adoption of Jim Crow in baseball complete. Baseball would remain segregated until when Jackie Robinson popularly "broke the color barrier" in professional baseball when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers' minor league affiliate in Montreal.
Walker was charged with second-degree murder and claimed self-defense. He was acquitted of all charges on June 3 1891. The Cleveland Gazette reported "When the verdict was announced the court house was thronged with spectators, who received it with a tremendous roar of cheers... Walker is the hero of the hour.
Walker became a supporter of Black nationalism and came to believe racial integration would fail in the United States. In 1908 he published a 47-page pamphlet titled Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present, and Future of the Negro Race in America. In that pamphlet he recommended African Americans emmigrate to Africa: "the only practical and permanent solution of the present and future race troubles in the United States is entire separation by emigration of the Negro from America. He warned "The Negro race will be a menace and the source of discontent as long as it remains in large numbers in the United States. The time is growing very near when the whites of the United States must either settle this problem by deportation, or else be willing to accept a reign of terror such as the world has never seen in a civilized country.
William Edward White was the son of a white former slaveholder from Georgia and his mixed-race mistress. White attended college at Brown University where he also played varsity baseball. He filled in for one game for the Grays on June 21 when the Providence team was short-handed.
It is unclear, however, if White's contemporaries in Rhode Island knew of his racial background. White's race is never mentioned in any accounts of his baseball exploits at Brown or with Providence. Furthermore, the 1880 census, as well as several later censuses, indicate his race as "white". He may have been passing as a white man during his time in Rhode Island.
THE FORGOTTEN FIRST STEPS; Jackie Robinson got the distinction of breaking baseball's color barrier, but Moses Fleetwood Walker and William Edward White paved the path for him to get there.
Feb 05, 2004; Miller, Kenneth Los Angeles Sentinel 02-05-2004 To this day, the late Jackie Robinson receives all the credit and much ofthe...