Rep. Cera Honors First African American Baseball Player
Bill to establish "Moses Fleetwood Walker Day" passes the House
February 26, 2016
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State Rep. Cera (D-Bellaire) today applauded the passage of House Bill 87 (HB 87), legislation to honor Moses Fleetwood Walker, the nation’s first professional African American baseball player. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Cera, designates Walker’s birthday of October 7 as “Moses Fleetwood Walker Day” in the state of Ohio. 

“The passage of this legislation is a testament to the enduring legacy of one of Ohio’s first trailblazers,” said Cera, Assistant Minority Whip for the House Democratic Caucus. “‘Moses Fleetwood Walker Day’ will recognize Walker for his courage and resolve as a pioneer, not only in the sport of baseball, but in the face of systematic racism.” 

Walker, a native of Mt. Pleasant and later Steubenville, Ohio, began his career in baseball at Oberlin College in 1877, where he played on the school’s first varsity baseball team. The “good field, no-hit catcher” played ball at a time when racism was prevalent and segregation was ongoing, but overcame these obstacles through hard work and determination. 

In 1883, Walker signed with the Toledo Blue Stockings to become the first African American baseball player in the major leagues. He played catcher for the Toledo Blue Stockings before his baseball career was curtailed in 1889 due to a ban on African American players by both the American Association and the National League. 

“It is truly a shame that more people are not aware of the strides that “Fleet” made for players of color,” said Cera. “It is important – especially during Black History Month – that we remember the history of oppression that plagued our nation and the brave men and women who fought against it to pave the way toward equality for future generations.” 

In addition to his baseball achievements, Moses Fleetwood Walker was also an inventor, author and entrepreneur. 

The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

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