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    Description

    Circa 1880 Moses Fleetwood Walker Oberlin College Photograph Collection. Over six decades before Jackie Robinson saved the soul of our national pastime on Opening Day of the 1947 National League season, this man made forty-two appearances with the 1884 Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association, becoming the very first openly black man--William Edward White before him had passed as Caucasian--to play Major League Baseball. Walker played just forty-two games before he was released due to injuries, though reports of fierce racist opposition to his employment may well have been the root cause of his departure.

    Like Robinson, Walker was a well-educated man, and the provided photographs derive from his time at Oberlin College, where he majored in philosophy and the arts. When Oberlin fielded a baseball team in 1881, Walker's skills were quickly noticed by the University of Michigan, which recruited Walker for his ball handling and penchant for long home runs. It was at Michigan that he was scouted for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the Northwestern League which, in 1884, joined the American Association, carrying Walker into Major League history with them.

    The five photographs on offer here derive from an Oberlin, Ohio photographic studio, each bearing the studio emblem on verso. Most notable, of course, is the photograph of Walker himself, measuring 3x2.5". Slightly larger in size are photographs of Professor Charles Henry Churchill (Walker nemesis mentioned in David Zang book), Oberlin president James Fairchild and 1881 Oberlin graduate James Monroe Henderson are likewise included. A larger (4.5x6") cabinet photograph pictures a group image of 1881 students with Willis F. Day (fourth from right) being a baseball teammate of Walker's at Oberlin. Each photograph presents without any condition issues of note beyond minor trimming of three of the four smaller images.

    We believe this to be the only original photograph of Moses Fleetwood Walker in private hands, an extraordinary piece of nearly forgotten baseball history.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    18th-19th Thursday-Friday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 1
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