Friday, September 28, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 13

13. May 6, 1884: St. Louis Browns vs. Toledo Blue Stockings

About 600 persons witnessed the game, which was interesting and at times remarkably brilliant...Among the spectators there were quite a number of colored individuals, attracted by the announcement that Walker, the colored catcher, would appear behind the bat for the visitors. They were enthusiastic over Walker, and manifested decided partiality for his club. 
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 7, 1884

When Moses Fleetwood Walker stepped out onto the field at Sportsman's Park in May of 1884, it represented the first time an African-American man played in a major league baseball game in St. Louis. 

The contributions of African-American men to the history of St. Louis major league baseball is immeasurable.  You can't write the history of St. Louis baseball without mentioning Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Ray Lankford and others too numerous to mention.  Think of all the great black ballplayers who have played for clubs in this city or visited as members of an opposing club.  Willie Mays played at Sportsman's Park.  Henry Aaron.  Jackie Robinson.  Roy Campanella.  My god, Satchel Paige.  Cool Papa.  All the great stars of the Negro Leagues.  Fleet Walker was the first of many - but he was the first.

And that is in no way to discount the contributions of the guys who played for the Black Stockings or the Blue Stockings or any of the innumerable black St. Louis clubs that existed prior to May 1884.  Walker makes the list because he's famous and a major leaguer.  Those guys get forgotten because they weren't.  But their contributions to the history of St. Louis baseball are much more significant and I kick myself more and more, as this list gets further along, that I didn't include the 1875 Blue Stockings/Unique game.  I've stated, time and again, that it's important to integrate the history of black baseball into the whole of baseball history and, by not including a Black Stocking or Blue Stocking game on this list, I think I'm failing to do that.  I'll just have to do better in the future.      

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