Jackie Robinson would have enjoyed the company
Of Moses Fleetwood Walker. Both had intelligence
And integrity. Both were courageous and up to a
More than difficult challenge in a hostile, unjust
Environment. Both were college educated and
Cared deeply about their chosen profession.
Both were African Americans succeeding in a
Predominantly White environment. Oh, yeah,
They would have hung out and shared non-combat
Stories — as they ignored the temptation to get
Physical despite the racial epithets and nastiness
Hurled in their direction. The thing is, these two men
Who shared a kindred spirit never got the chance to
Meet, to share their stories, to give each other the
Encouragement that each could have used. “Fleet”
Caught for the professional Toledo Blue Stockings of
The American Association, which would in time evolve
Into today’s American League. He played in 1884,
Sixty-three years before Jackie made his Brooklyn
Dodger debut. “Fleet” was indeed the first Black
Ball player in the Major Leagues, but he would be
The first to honor Jackie, who had to overcome
Sixty-three years of organized opposition (while
“Fleet” was blackballed by a “gentleman’s”
Agreement among owners after his single season).
It was Jackie who broke down the imaginary wall
And led the march to justice for the likes of Larry
Doby, Hank Thompson, Willard Brown, Monte
Irvin, Sam Jethroe, Willie Mays . . . and all the
Others who longed to play in the Majors and
Belonged there, to be recognized and honored,
To give truth and substance to our national sport.
Here’s a thought: On April 15 of every year, in
Addition to all players wearing Number 42 proudly
In Jackie’s honor, let us all remember that 42
Is also the number of games “Fleet” played
For his pro team before his career was ended,
Before he was frozen out of the league
In days that have been sent packing.
Let’s honor both these men as the brothers they were.