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Black players in organized white baseball in the pre-integration era

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Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color barrier in 1947, but he was not the first black ballplayer to play alongside white players in organized baseball. Those who came before Robinson should not be lost to history.

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Fleet and Weldy Walker were the first two black players to play for a white Major League team.  Seen pictured here as members of Oberlin College's nine.
Fleet and Weldy Walker were the first two black players to play for a white Major League team. Seen pictured here as members of Oberlin College's nine.
National Baseball Hall of Fame

Author's Note: I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this article coming together. While it is my name on the byline, this article wouldn't be half of what it is without the great help from Richard Hershberger, Leslie Heaphy, James Brunson, and Jacob Pomrenke. All photos in this article are used with the permission of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As this article represents only a small slice of the vivid stories of these early pioneers, I highly recommend reading all the articles cited in the end notes for the full stories of these incredible men.

The story is well-known. On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson made his major league debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking baseball's color barrier and putting an end to a disgraceful period in the history of the national pastime. The dominant historical narrative holds Branch Rickey as a maverick willing to charge against the status quo and having a burning desire to end baseball's color barrier. Robinson was his hand-picked player who then became the first man ever to step foot on a field with white professional baseball players. But this is a false narrative. Robinson and Rickey deserve recognition - that much is for sure - but there were black players in organized white baseball who came before Robinson, and there were attempts to integrate the modern game before Rickey's.

The stories of the brave pioneers who came before Robinson and Rickey are virtually unknown outside the inner circles of baseball history, being recounted only in a piecemeal fashion. Maybe casual fans have heard of Moses Fleetwood Walker in passing or are aware of Bill Veeck's attempt to buy the Philadelphia Phillies because they read Veeck as in Wreck. But the stories and the struggles of these early pioneers are important to remember in the historical context of pre-integration baseball history. What these men accomplished on and off the field and what they had to endure because of the overt racism of the era should not be lost to history.

John "Bud" Fowler is often credited to be the first black man to play organized white baseball in 1878. Baseball historian James Brunson begs to differ, calling this story the "object of baseball mythmaking."[1] At this point, we have no way of knowing who the first black player was in organized white baseball. There is precedent of white and black players playing together as far back as 1870, when black players Frank Stewart and Charles Bannister played on an otherwise all-white team for a game against the all-black Washington's Mutual Base Ball Club in Rochester, N.Y.  Stewart was a Civil War veteran[2] who played primarily for the all-black Rochester's Unexpected Club and was called by the Rochester Evening Express as the best ballplayer in the state of New York - black or white.[3]

The myth of Fowler being first has persisted, though, probably because he was an outstanding ballplayer. He hit .308 in more than 2,000 at-bats in organized baseball and was a good pitcher as well. Fowler, born John W. Jackson Jr., was raised in Cooperstown, N.Y. and was a professional baseball player for 10 years, playing for over a dozen early minor league teams. He dedicated himself to the promotion of black baseball from coast to coast for over 30 years, becoming the first black captain of a professional baseball team.[4] [5] For a black man in organized white baseball one year after Reconstruction ended, Fowler was unsurprisingly not always well-received by his opponents, the fans, or even his own teammates. This was a time in the United States when Jim Crow laws were just coming onto the books, and the prevailing thought in the South was the racist dogma of de jure segregation, though it is inaccurate to say that this was a purely southern way of thought.

Born in Marshalltown, Iowa, Adrian "Cap" Anson was a true pioneer of the game of baseball. He was the first superstar of professional baseball and was the first to reach 3,000 career hits.[6] C. Montgomery Burns had him on the original short list to play for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant nine. He was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He was also a horrible racist who was largely responsible for the unwritten "Gentlemen's Agreement" which saw black players blackballed from Major League Baseball. Anson was a segregationalist, and his stature in the game lent his bigoted opinion a lot of weight, and he used that position in the game to push for his views.[7]

His involvement in pushing for the "Gentlemen's Agreement" originates on August 10, 1883 when his Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) played an exhibition game against the Toledos of the Northwest League. Anson saw that Toledo had a black catcher, Moses Fleetwood "Fleet" Walker, and refused to take the field if Walker was to play. Now Walker was not originally scheduled to catch that day, but upon hearing Anson's demands, Toledo manager Charlie Morton decided to start Walker in the outfield. Anson eventually agreed to play so he wouldn't miss out on his share of the gate.

In 1884, Chicago played Toledo again, which had moved to the American Association, and Walker sat the game out. John R. Husman's account of the incidents on the SABR website says that, "Chicago requested assurance in writing that no black would play any position in the July 25 exhibition game." Husman also notes that Walker didn't play in Toledo's previous three games and didn't see action behind the plate again until August 18th, so perhaps Chicago's request was meaningless in the end.[8]

The result of the Anson-Walker ordeal was the most shameful period in the history of baseball. For the ensuing 63 years Major League Baseball conspired to keep black players out of the game. While true, to say that this robbed many great players the chance to compete at the highest level doesn't fully encapsulate the injustice and moral indignity that was the "Gentlemen's Agreement". But despite the agreement, there were a handful of black players who played in organized white baseball before Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

Fleet Walker Small

Moses Fleetwood Walker. Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fleet Walker played in 42 games for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884 and hit .263/.325/.316, which was good for a 107 OPS+, second-best on the team. He collected 40 hits in 166 plate appearances, including two doubles and three triples. Despite his rough debut behind the plate, Walker was also praised for his defensive abilities at catcher.[9] Walker developed makeshift wooden shin guards years before Roger Bresnahan to protect his legs from being spiked by runners. This equipment innovation came during a time when it was considered cowardly to use a glove and most fielders played barehanded.

It wasn't just Walker's opponents who didn't like that a black man was playing baseball, his own teammates disliked him. Toledo pitcher Tony Mullane would intentionally throw the ball in the dirt, trying to injure his own battery mate. Walker suffered several injuries, including fractured ribs, during the season as a result of this. This sabotage contributed to Walker collecting a league-leading 72 passed balls in 41 games behind the plate (he played the outfield once). Mullane would refuse to acknowledge Walker's signals and intentionally crossed him up but later told The New York Age, "He was the best catcher I ever worked with." Mullane recalled an incident with Walker in the interview:

"I disliked a Negro and whenever I had to pitch to him I used to pitch anything I wanted without looking at his signals. One day he signaled me for a curve and I shot a fast ball at him. He caught it and walked down to me.

"‘Mr. Mullane,' he said, ‘I'll catch you without signals, but I won't catch you if you are going to cross me when I give you signal.'

"And all the rest of that season he caught me and caught anything I pitched without knowing what was coming."[10]

Walker's post-playing career is fascinating as well. He was well-educated, having attended Oberlin College and the University of Michigan. After playing in the minor leagues for several years after the "Gentlemen's Agreement," he retired to become a businessman and inventor, receiving several patents. In 1891 he was charged with second-degree murder after he fatally stabbed a white man who had attacked him and was acquitted by an all-white jury. At the turn of the 20th century, Walker became a supporter of Black Nationalism and in 1908 published a widely-read pamphlet called Our Home Colony, which pre-dated Marcus Garvey's rise to prominence in the movement.[11]

While Fleet Walker is most often remembered by historians, it's often overlooked that he was not the only black player on the Blue Stockings that year. Fleet's brother Welday Walker appeared in five games with Toledo in 1884, though he hit just .222/.222/.278 with a double and two RBIs. The story of how Welday, whom people called Weldy, became a member of the Blue Stockings is interesting. He was in Toledo visiting his brother and was signed to fill out the roster for a July 15th game. There is no indication that Weldy was still a member of the Blue Stockings when Cap Anson's White Stockings came into Toledo 10 days later with the demand that no black player take the field.

Oberlin College Fleet and Weldy small

Moses "Fleet" Walker (second row, l.) and Weldy Walker (third row, middle r.) pose for the team portrait at Oberlin College. Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Weldy had just a small cup of coffee, but it was not without significance. Though they never appeared in a game together, Weldy and Fleet would be the only pair of black teammates on a major league team until Hank Thompson and Willard "Home Run" Brown on the 1947 St. Louis Browns. After he left Toledo, Weldy played in the minors and in the National Colored Baseball League, the first-ever league of teams comprised of all black players, in 1887 - though the league never really got off the ground. Much like his brother, Weldy was intelligent, well-educated, and politically aware. He made a career for himself after baseball as a business owner and political activist. Later on in life he worked as a bootlegger during Prohibition and at one time ran a gambling house.[12] Much of what we know about Weldy Walker comes from David Zang's 1995 biography of his brother, entitled Fleet Walker's Divided Heart.

The Walker brothers were not the first black players to play Major League Baseball. In 1879, William Edward White played one game for the Providence Grays of the National League. White was the son of a Georgia businessman and one of his slaves, who was mixed-race. In the eyes of the law at the time, that made White legally black and a slave, although he passed as a white man for his entire adulthood after slavery was abolished.[13] In his one game for the Grays on June 21, 1879, White went 1-4 with a run scored while starting at first base and batting ninth.[14]

The controversy surrounding White and his possible breaking of the color barrier is that if he was three-quarters white, lived as a white man, and was never challenged as such, should he be considered the first black baseball player? Since the racist attitudes of the time likely were a contributing factor to White concealing his black heritage, it is only fair that he should be considered the first black player in Major League Baseball history, even though he was not openly so. The counter argument to that is that if his being white was not questioned at the time, then why should we revise history and consider him black?

While the Walker brothers remained the only openly black players in Major League Baseball, there were other players who kicked around the white minor leagues after the "Gentlemen's Agreement" and before the color line became firmly established. The most notable of those players was second baseman and Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Grant. Grant played three seasons in the International League for the Buffalo Bisons from 1886-1888 and was the only black player in organized white baseball to spend three seasons with the same club until the 1940s.[15]

Frank Grant Small

Frank Grant. Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Grant, who originally tried to pass for a Spaniard, was an outstanding player - nicknamed the "Black Dunlap" for the comparisons that he drew to white second baseman Fred Dunlap. Minor league stats from the 1880s being what they are, we don't have complete career numbers available for Grant, but his Baseball-Reference page indicates that as a 22 year old with Buffalo in 1888, he hit .346 with 11 home runs in 347 at-bats.

While Grant was playing for Buffalo, the tipping point was reached in terms of blacks being formally banned from organized white baseball. On July 14, 1887, the International League voted to formally ban any additional signings of black players by its clubs. Black players in the league - George Stovey, Bob Higgins, Grant and Fleet Walker - were allowed to stay with their clubs. Grant stuck around for one more season in the IL, while Walker remained in the league through 1889. By 1897, all organized white baseball leagues had adopted either written or unwritten rules like this one.

The very same day that the International League voted to formally ban black players from entering the league, there was a third incident between Cap Anson and Fleet Walker, who was now with the Newark Little Giants. Stovey and Walker were set to be the battery in the exhibition game against the White Stockings, and once again Anson threatened not to take the field against the two black players. Newark's manager didn't show the same backbone that Charlie Morton had shown four years earlier and caved to Anson's demands, removing the pair from the lineup.

At the end of 1887, Grant re-signed with Buffalo and even held out for a short time for a salary increase to $250 per month. He was popular with the local fans, but his teammates were not as accepting. Several white players refused to sit for the team portrait if Grant was going to sit for it, and in 1888 they didn't take a picture at all because players didn't want to be photographed alongside Grant. During a road game in Toronto, Grant endured chants from the crowd of "kill the n----r." Brian McKenna dug up a particularly chilling description of Grant's life with the Bisons from the Louisville Post in Grant's SABR bio:

"He is a fine ball tosser...and hasn't many superiors among players either white or black...Grant is very popular in Buffalo, and for that reason the management is forced to hold him, although the players of the club are said to feel keenly having to play with a colored man. In the east Grant goes with the other members of the club, stops at the same hotels, eats at the same table and possibly occupies the same room. While in this city he is registered at the Galt House, but is roomed with the colored help and takes his meals with them."

After the 1888 season, Grant left Buffalo and played in the Negro Leagues until 1903. Unlike the Walker brothers, Grant lived the remainder of his life out of the public spotlight working various service and labor jobs before passing away in 1937. One of the greatest players of the 1800s - black or white - was buried in East Ridgelawn Cemetery in Clifton, New Jersey in a grave that remained unmarked until 2011.[16]

Meanwhile, after the 1887 season, George Stovey was approached by John Montgomery Ward about joining the New York Giants. Ward, who was a teammate of William Edward White for that one day in 1879 with the Grays, convinced the owner of the Giants, John Day, that he should sign Stovey.[17] Ward, the Giants player-manager, was undoubtedly impressed with Stovey, a dominant lefty hurler who was only 21 years old. When opposing players and owners led by none other than Cap Anson caught wind of the plan, Day backed down. Stovey continued playing in the minor leagues until 1897 and umpired in his native Williamsport, PA through at least 1913. He worked odd jobs throughout his later life and like Weldy Walker dabbled in bootlegging during Prohibition.[18] Like Grant, Stovey passed away living in poverty, passing of a heart attack in 1936.

Independent Organized Black Teams
Team Years in Existence
St. Louis Brown Stockings 1870
Chicago Uniques 1873-1880
St. Louis Black Stockings 1883-1886
Chicago Gordons 1884-1887
Louisville Fall Citys 1885-1886
Trenton Cuban Giants 1886-1890

One of the stops along the way for both Grant and Stovey was the Middle States League in 1889, which was a mostly-white league that fielded two all-black teams: the New York Gorhams and the Trenton Cuban Giants.[19] The nature of race relations in baseball at the time was clearly in transition from the very light integration of the late 1870s and early 1880s to what would eventually be an all-out ban by the turn of the century. While on one hand in the International League there was a rule banning blacks, on the other hand was the Middle States League with two all-black teams competing against all-white teams. It should be noted that the status of the Middle States League as being a part of organized baseball is in question, as it was not part of any national agreement and has since been characterized as an Outlaw League.[20]

Over the years there were a handful of black players who tried to pass themselves off as Cuban, Native American, or just simply a dark-skinned white man in order to play in the major leagues. Often times the ruses were found out in advance of the players being signed and were nixed, but there were some exceptions, like George Treadway. Treadway claimed Native American ancestry and lasted in the Major Leagues for four years until 1896. Toward the end of his rookie season in 1893 with the Baltimore Orioles of the National League, an article appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal claiming that Treadway was black. Baseball Editor Sam McKee wrote, "There can be little doubt that Treadway, Baltimore's right fielder is a Negro...all the players say he is."[21]

Treadway denied the allegations, and two separate investigations - one by The Baltimore Afro-American and one by Orioles management - determined the story was untrue. The utter lack of facts supporting the claim didn't stop opposing fans from taunting him with racist rhetoric. Before the 1894 season, Treadway was traded to the Brooklyn Grooms for stars Dan Brouthers and "Wee" Willie Keeler. Treadway had a successful year for the team later to be known as the Dodgers, hitting .330/.420/.521 with 28 doubles, 26 triples, and 102 RBIs in 124 games. He lasted one more year in Brooklyn before finishing off his Major League career in 1896 with the Louisville Colonels.

Though his Major League career was over, Treadway bounced around the minor leagues until his retirement in 1904 at the age of 37. Treadway's disappearance from Major League Baseball almost certainly had something to do with the rumors that he was actually a black man, even though no evidence supporting that has ever turned up. The rumors are believed started by an unnamed, slighted ex-teammate of Treadway's who tried to discredit him after he had reached the Major Leagues. These vague rumors destroyed Treadway's career, but he was far from the only player accused of having black ancestry. Famously there were unsubstantiated rumors of Babe Ruth being black, and Ty Cobb even refused to share a hotel room with him because of the rumors.

Charlie Grant small

Charlie Grant a.k.a. Chief Tokohoma. Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

With the turn of the 20th century and the formation of the American League in 1901, a plan was hatched by John McGraw, Clark Griffith, and Dave Wyatt to pass a black player named Charlie Grant (no relation to Frank) as a Cherokee Indian named Tokohoma.[22] It would not be an easy task; many players knew Grant personally and were aware of his racial background, including at least two members of McGraw's Baltimore Orioles. McGraw, et al., organized a cover-up of the scheme in the newspapers, perhaps with inside help at the Chicago Tribune, which Brian McKenna does a good job of tracking in Grant's SABR bio.

Within a month of the plan being hatched, the ruse started to unravel as newspapers began reporting that Tokohoma was actually Grant. A temporary saving grace for the plan was that the Washington Post had him confused with Frank Grant, calling him "the old negro player." McGraw and Grant vehemently denied the allegations, committing to the story that he was an American Indian, pointing to the confusion with Frank Grant. But the Chicago White Sox and owner Charles Comiskey weren't buying it, as Grant had previously played for the Columbia Giants, a black baseball team in Chicago. Comiskey said in so many words, "If McGraw keeps his Indian, I'll put a Chinaman on third base."

For reasons that are still unknown, although undoubtedly partly because the jig was up, McGraw backed away from the plan, and Grant rejoined the Columbia Giants, using the Tokohoma name. He was given a big ceremony and gifts from the Giants' fans, which has been credited with blowing his cover at times, but he had been exposed previous to the April 6th celebration.

The eventual demise of the "Gentlemen's Agreement" gained momentum in the early 1940s with several happenings. The one that has gone on to live the longest in baseball lore was Bill Veeck's failed attempt at purchasing the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942 and stocking the team with the best Negro League players. As Veeck told it, the plan was quashed when he informed Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Landis turned the franchise over to National League president Ford Frick, who refused to do business with Veeck and sold the franchise to William Cox.[23] The authenticity of Veeck's is questionable, because very little evidence supporting it has ever come to light, despite some good research.[24] [25]

The best piece of circumstantial evidence for it comes from a quote by Abe Saperstein in the Philadelphia Independent on August 14, 1954.[26] Saperstein was the head of the Harlem Globetrotters and, according to Veeck, a co-conspirator in the plan to overhaul the Phillies:

"I'll tell you one thing about Veeck, something that few people know. In 1942 the Phillies were for sale and Veeck attempted to buy them. But Bill Cox raised more money and got the club. Do you know what Veeck planned to do? He was going to take the Phils to spring training in Florida and then - on the day the season opened - dispose of the entire team. Meanwhile, with a team composed entirely of Negroes, who would have trained separately, he could have opened the National League season."

This at least indicated that Saperstein was aware of a plan by Veeck, but the rest of what we know comes directly from Veeck and is less than reliable - not that Saperstein is the most reliable person either. I would highly recommend reading both pieces of research in the end notes to get a better understanding of Veeck and the 1943 Phillies than I could ever provide. Veeck of course was a pioneer in the integration of baseball, as he signed Larry Doby to play for the Cleveland Indians. Doby debuted on July 5, 1947, becoming the first black player to play in the American League.

Early 'Colored' Leagues
League Years in Existence
Colored League of Louisiana 1875
Colored League of District of Columbia 1878-1880
Colored League of Washington, Maryland and Pennsylvania 1884
League of Southern Colored Base Ballists 1886
National Colored Base Ball League 1887
Texas Colored League 1888
Colored League of Texas 1897

As the Veeck-Phillies drama played out quietly before the 1943 season, across the country in Oakland, CA a pitcher named Chet Brewer was given an opportunity to try out for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. Vince Devincenzi, the owner of the Oaks, demanded that manager Johnny Vergez give tryouts to Brewer and Lou Dials. Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research said, "Devincenzi was responding to pressure by the Tribune (Oakland's local newspaper) to give more than lip service to racial reform."[27] Vergez refused to give the men a tryout, and nothing materialized.

In 1945, the Bakersfield Indians, a minor league club for Cleveland, wanted to hire Brewer as a player-manager for the 1946 season. Minor League Baseball determined that Brewer would be eligible to play as there was no written rule forbidding black players. But upon hearing the plan, Roger Peckinpaugh, then the General Manager of the Cleveland Indians, forbade the Bakersfield club from making the hire. In July 1946, the Cleveland Indians were sold to Bill Veeck, Peckinpaugh resigned, and one year later, Larry Doby was taking the field.[28]

There were other tryouts or attempted tryouts that occurred from around 1942 until 1945, when the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson. In August of 1942, there was a New York Times report that the President of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bill Benswanger, was considering giving tryouts to several Negro League players, including Josh Gibson. Clarence "Pants" Rowland, who oversaw the Chicago Cubs farm system, toyed with the idea of trying out several Negro League players, including Brewer, before Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley decided against it.[29] Ironically the Boston Red Sox, owned by notorious racist Tom Yawkey, actually followed through on trying out Negro League players in 1945, when Jackie Robinson, Sam Jethro, and Marvin Williams worked out for coaches at Fenway Park.[30]

It took baseball 12 years to fully integrate, with the Boston Red Sox being the last team in 1959. Black representation in baseball has fluctuated since that point and has become a hot-button issue in recent years as the number of black players has shrunk. Even more important is that we still to this day treat black athletes in general different than white athletes - they are held to a higher standard and as a result are eviscerated by fans and the media over things that are shrugged off when white athletes do the same acts with the same intentions. The Cam Newton post-Super Bowl 50 drama is just one in a long line of examples of this. If we are ever to get past a point where this bias exists, we must always remember the atrocities that are deeply engrained in the history of this sport. Most important of all, we must not forget the men who faced this bigotry at its absolute worst and stood up for what they believed in.

We cannot allow men like William Edward White, Bud Fowler, Fleet and Weldy Walker, Frank and Charlie Grant, George Stovey, and George Treadway to be lost to history. We cannot forget about the stand taken by Toledo manager Charlie Morton, the efforts of John Montgomery Ward and John McGraw to get black players into Major League Baseball, or the challenges to the color line made by Vince Devincenzi, Bill Veeck, and others in the early 1940s. We all know the story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. We know the story of the Negro Leagues. We need to do a better job at knowing the stories of those who came before - they are a part of baseball history.

First Black Player by Team
Player Team Date
Jackie Robinson (HOF) Brooklyn Dodgers 4/15/1947
Larry Doby (HOF) Cleveland Indians 7/5/1947
Hank Thompson St. Louis Browns 7/17/1947
Monte Irvin (HOF) New York Giants 1/8/1949
Hank Thompson New York Giants 1/8/1949
Sam Jethroe Boston Braves 4/18/1950
Minnie Minoso Chicago White Sox 5/1/1951
Bob Trice Philadelphia Athletics 9/13/1953
Ernie Banks (HOF) Chicago Cubs 9/17/1953
Curt Roberts Pittsburgh Pirates 4/13/1954
Tom Alston St. Louis Cardinals 4/13/1954
Nino Escalera Cincinnati Reds 4/17/1954
Chuck Harmon Cincinnati Reds 4/17/1954
Carlos Paula Washington Senators 9/6/1954
Elston Howard New York Yankees 4/14/1955
John Kennedy Philadelphia Phillies 4/22/1957
Ozzie Virgil, Sr. Detroit Tigers 6/6/1958
Pumpsie Green Boston Red Sox 7/21/1959



[1] James Brunson, email message to the author, February 13, 2016

[2] Stewart served as a non-commissioned officer in the Eleventh Rhode Island Colored Infantry Division.

[3] James Brunson, email message to the author, February 13, 2016

[4] Brian McKenna, "Bud Fowler," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/200e2bbd

[5] "John ‘Bud' Fowler," Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, http://coe.k-state.edu/annex/nlbemuseum/history/players/fowler.html

[6] David Fleitz, "Cap Anson," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/9b42f875

[7] Richard Hershberger (October 27, 2015), "The Curse of Anson," Ordinary Times, http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2015/10/27/the-curse-of-anson/

[8] John R. Husman, "August 10, 1883: Cap Anson vs. Fleet Walker," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/august-10-1883-cap-anson-vs-fleet-walker.

[9] John R. Husman, "May 1, 1884: Fleet Walker's Major League Debut," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/may-1-1884-fleet-walker-s-major-league-debut

[10] Thom Karmik (January 13, 2014), "Three or four Men who looked like Wonders in the Big Leagues Disappeared," Baseball History Daily, http://baseballhistorydaily.com/2014/01/13/three-or-four-men-who-looked-like-wonders-in-the-big-leagues-disappeared/

[11] John R. Husman, "Fleet Walker," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/9fc5f867

[12] John R. Husman, "Weldy Walker," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/08893f9f

[13] Peter Morris and Stefan Fastis (February 4, 2014), "Baseball's Secret Pioneer," Slate, http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2014/02/william_edward_white_baseball_s_first_black_player_lived_his_life_as_a_white.single.html

[14] John R. Husman, "June 21, 1879: The Cameo of William Edward White," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/june-21-1879-cameo-william-edward-white

[15] Brian McKenna, "Frank Grant," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/2f633c50

[16] Deena Yellin (June 15, 2011), "Gravesite of Negro Leagues pioneer finally gets a marker," The Record, http://www.northjersey.com/community-news/cemetery-honors-a-baseballpioneer-1.190536

[17] "John Ward," National Baseball Hall of Fame, http://baseballhall.org/hof/ward-john

[18] Brian McKenna, "George Stovey," Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/8ff10f5c

[19] Merl F. Kleinknecht, "Blacks in 19th Century Organized Baseball," Society for American Baseball Research, http://research.sabr.org/journals/blacks-in-19th-c-baseball

[20] Richard Hershberger, e-mail message to author, February 12, 2016.

[21] Thom Karmick (October 16, 2012), "George Treadway," Baseball History Daily, http://baseballhistorydaily.com/2012/10/16/george-treadway/

[22] Brian McKenna, "Charlie Grant," Society for American Baseball Research, http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/treadge01.shtml

[23] As it turned out, Cox would be banned from baseball in 1944 for betting on his own team.

[24] David M. Jordan, Larry P. Gerlach, John P. Rossi (1998); "A Baseball Myth Exploded;" Society for American Baseball Research, http://sabr.org/cmsFiles/Files/Bill_Veeck_and_the_1943_sale_of_the_Phillies.pdf

[25] Jules Tygiel, "Revisiting Bill Veeck and the 1943 Phillies," SABR Baseball Research Journal, No. 35 (2006): 109-114, http://research.sabr.org/journals/files/SABR-Baseball_Research_Journal-35.pdf

[26] Tygiel, 113.

[27] Dr. Layton Revel & Luis Munoz, "Forgotten Heroes: Chet Brewer," Center for Negro League Baseball Research, http://www.cnlbr.org/Portals/0/Hero/Chet-Brewer.pdf

[28] In a March 29, 1987 New York Times article written by Dave Anderson entitled, "Has baseball forgotten Larry Doby?", Doby recounts the following tale of his first day in Cleveland: "The day I joined the Indians in Chicago, Lou Boudreau lined up all the players. One by one, Lou introduced me to each player, ‘This is Joe Gordon,' and Gordon put his hand out. ‘This is Bob Lemon,' and Lemon put his hand out. ‘This is Jim Hegan,' and Hegan put his hand out. All the guys put their hands out, all but three. As soon as he could, Bill Veeck got rid of those three." http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/29/sports/sports-of-the-times-has-baseball-forgotten-larry-doby.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

[29] "Integration of Major League Baseball," Center for Negro League Baseball Research, http://www.cnlbr.org/Portals/0/RL/Integration%20of%20Major%20League%20Baseball.pdf

[30] "Red Sox coaches check out Negro League players," The Boston Globe (April 17, 1945), https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/1945/04/17/red-sox-coaches-check-out-negro-league-players/XsxnxwoWmMx2GIsIYcbWHI/story.html

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Joe Vasile is the Broadcasting and Media Relations assistant for the Salem Red Sox and is a contributor at Beyond the Box Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.