If you don’t know Moses Walker, you probably should

By Jimmie Searfoss

Moses Fleetwood Walker is mostly unknown, yet his accomplishment may be one of the most significant in baseball history. Though it is commonly believed that Jackie Robinson broke the MLB’s color barrier in 1947, that achievement belongs to Walker, who became the first black man to play professional baseball in 1884. Now to be clear, what Robinson accomplished for the sport is indescribable. However, Walker’s story does not get the same attention Robinsons does. Walker’s life of baseball, entrepreneurship, crime, and invention deserves to be known.

Walker was born in Ohio on October 7, 1856. He was the third child of seven. His brother, Weldy Walker, would go on to be the second black man to play in the MLB. Walker enrolled in Oberlin College in 1877 where he would begin his baseball career on their prep team. He quickly became their starting catcher and leadoff hitter. In 1881, Oberlin College upgraded their prep team to a varsity one. Walker continued his role on the now varsity team. He was a key component of their team. Oberlin finished their season with a 9-2 win over the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan was so impressed with Walker’s play that he was offered to transfer and play for the Wolverines. He accepted their offer.

Before he began his play at Michigan, he spent his summer playing for the White Sewing Machine Company of Cleveland, a semi pro team. This is where prejudice and racism began to interfere with his career. Although he was their starting catcher, there were instances where he was purposefully left out of the line up due to the other team threatening to not take the field if he were to play. This happened in a game against the Eclipse Nine, a baseball team out of Louisville, Kentucky. 

“Players of the Eclipse Club objected to Walker playing on account of his color,” said the Louisville Courier-Journal.

However during the game, the backup catcher used as Walker’s replacement had gotten injured, forcing him into the game. Upon his entry several members of the Eclipse had left the field in protest. The objections from the Eclipse had caused the game to derail, leaving Walker compelled to leave the game. Cleveland’s third baseman went on to catch behind the plate.

Despite the bigotry he had experienced in the summer, he shined as a member of the Michigan Wolverines in 1882. He batted .308 on a Michigan team that would go 10-3 on the season. His 1882 season was his last at the collegiate level. In 1883 he signed a contract with the Toledo Blue Stockings, a minor league team in the Northwestern League.

In the 1883 season he hit .251 and played in 60 of the teams 84 games. He was proven to be durable and a strong defensive player. 

At the time, the position of catcher was more stressful on the body, than it is now. Walker was known to wear only a mask and occasionally lambskin gloves with little padding to catch the ball. Toledo went on to win the pennant that season. This led to lots of praise from the local media as Walker became a known figure of the town of Toledo. 

Despite his accomplishments on the field, many were still strongly opposed to a black man playing professional baseball. The wheels to not include African Americans in the game were set in motion during an in-season expedition game where the Chicago White Stockings played Toledo. Cap Anson, a future Hall of Famer and outspoken racist, famously was opposed to playing against a team with a black man on it. Toledo’s manager, as well as the town rallied behind Walker in response. “Walker has a very sore hand, and it had not been intended to play him in yesterday’s game.” Not content with this, the visitors declared that they would play ball ‘with no damned (racial slur).’ The order was given, then and there, to play Walker and the beefy bluffer was informed that he could play or go, just as he pleased. Anson hauled in his horns somewhat and ‘consented’ to play, remarking, ‘We’ll play this here game, but won’t play never no more with the (racial slur) in,’’’ said the Toledo Daily Blade.

Suddenly, because of how big of a name Anson was, the matter of black players in professional baseball became a topic of discussion. This eventually led to the banning of black players across the country.

In 1884, Toledo was promoted into the American Association after the success of their 1883 season. The American Association was the MLB equivalent at the time.

Walker would make this transition into professional baseball with the team, and in doing so, became the first black man to play professional baseball.

However, the move into professional baseball only further raised the tensions around Walker’s play. Slurs and death threats coming from the fans and opposing team created a hostile environment for Walker, and in his debut, he returned to Louisville. He went hitless in four at bats and committed four errors. 

He eventually found some success as Toledo’s starting catcher, hitting .264 and scoring 23 runs in a period of baseball where offense was hard to come by. Regardless of his play, the racial bias against him had a serious effect on his performance. 

“[Walker] was the best catcher I ever worked with, but I disliked a Negro and whenever I had to pitch to him I used to pitch anything I wanted without looking at his signals,” said pitcher and teammate of Walker, Tony Mullane.

With many of his own teammates sharing this view, Walker would commonly get credited for negative stats like passed balls that were undeserved. This also caused many injuries, which had an even greater impact on Walker. In some games he was left too battered to even catch and would be forced to play in the outfield. Eventually, the injuries became too much leading to his professional career ending in 1884 after only 42 games.

He would spend time bouncing around minor league teams, hoping to get back to the majors until 1889, when the American Association and National League unofficially banned African American players from playing.

Life would get even harder for Walker in 1891, where he would be attacked by a group of men which led to him fatally stabbing one of them. Walker was charged with second degree murder, but he pleaded self-defense, and was acquitted. His trouble with the law didn’t end there though, in 1898 he was charged with mail robbery. He was found guilty and spent a year in jail.

Later in life, Walker published Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present, and Future of the Negro Race in America, a book that described his grim views on race relations in America at the time. He then went on to become an editor for The Equator, a black-issues newspaper. His endeavors did not end there. He also managed a hotel, and a local theater called the Opera House in Cadiz, Ohio. While he managed the opera house, he embraced the new medium of movies. He felt he could make improvements to the technology, and found ways to improve film reel loading and changing. He was even awarded three patents in the field. This wasn’t even his first invention though. In 1891, he received a patent for an artillery shell that would explode only at its target. 

Moses Fleetwood Walker died in 1924, and is buried in Steubenville, Ohio. For many, he would be forgotten. His story would not be taught in schools, and there would not be movies made in his honor. Instead, Walker is barely a footnote in the history books.

Yet for what he accomplished, it is truly a tragedy he is not given the recognition he deserves.

Daly Doses 07-27-21: Thoughts, reflections, and derision from the Mile High City

I got all excited today, when I realized that fans can attend Denver Broncos training camp in just 20 days!

Then I remembered that the Green Bay Packers are mending fences with Aaron Rodgers, so it looks like we will be watching a Drew Lock versus Teddy Bridgewater competition.

That should result in a combined 3 for 47 third down conversions, zero touchdowns, and 14 turnovers.

By the way, 13 of those turnovers will be Lock fumbles.

I know that the narrative among those with the orange and blue tinted glasses, is that Lock is going to eventually show his true colors, and be a top notch NFL quarterback.

I just don’t have any reason to think that is going to happen.

Going back in NFL history, there have been numerous young quarterbacks that made a ton of mistakes early in their careers, but they did also show flashes of greatness.

Point to the game, series, or even singular play where we have seen anything resembling a flash of greatness from Drew Lock.

I’ll wait.

You’d have better luck finding video evidence of the Denver Nuggets greatest NBA Finals moments.

I do think the Denver defense can at least make them competitive at times, but below average quarterback play will be tough to overcome, and is this team truly stout in the trenches?

I have my doubts.

Speaking of those Denver Nuggets, please keep in mind that Jrue Holiday was available back in November, but the Nuggets didn’t want to spend that much money.

The Milwaukee Bucks did, and we all know what they did this year.

I realize that no one could have predicted the Jamal Murray injury, but we all could have predicted that the Nuggets would need a perimeter defender in the playoffs.

Their inability to limit anything Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul was doing in the postseason was their demise.

Holiday would have changed that.

But at least they saved a few bucks, right?

Hey, but at least the Colorado Rockies are no longer in last place, right?

Surely after giving away Nolan Arenado, the worst for that franchise is now behind us, and the rebuilding can begin.

Except that I fully expect the Rox to eat some more money, and give players like Jon Gray and Trevor Story away, later this week at the trade deadline.

And don’t think Charlie Blackmon or German Marquez are untouchable.

These are the results of living under horrible ownership.

Between the Bowlen Trust, the Kroenke’s, and the Montfort’s the Mile High City is getting this bad ownership thing down pat.

Mile High mediocrity, baby.

Daly Dose 07-21-21 The Bucks block out the Suns

This week on the Daly Dose, the NBA Finals are complete, and the Milwaukee Bucks are the champions after shutting down the Phoenix Suns in six games! We break down how the Bucks were able to win their first title since 1971!

We also take a look at some of the top sports news stories from the past week! MLB had a very scary story take place over the weekend, and we discussed some of the reactions from around the league.

Plus Richard Sherman had a very rough week, the NFL is making some changes that might not be that popular with all of their fans, a new rivalry could be starting in NCAA football, and the Big 12 keeps encouraging fans to taunt the University of Texas!

Then with NFL training camps opening soon, we take a look back at the Top 5 NFL injuries that took place prior to the season in training camp! 

Daly Dose 07-21-21 The NFL is making changes

This week on the Daly Dose YouTube video, we are discussing some sports news from the past week.

MLB had a very scary story take place over the weekend, and we discuss some of the reactions from around the league.

Plus Richard Sherman had a very rough week, and the NFL is making some changes that might not be that popular with all of their fans!

Daly Dose 07-14-21 Winners and losers from the world of sports

This week on the Daly Dose, we discuss how disappointing National Nude Day will be this year.

Major League Baseball makes an announcement about their rules, but we are noticing some insincerity!

Then, we look at some winners and losers from the world of sports recently. We find winners and losers from college sports, the NFL, MLB, the NBA, UFC, the NHL, and even some Olympic athletes!

Finally, with the Supreme Court ruling that NCAA athletes can now begin to profit off of their name, image, and likeness, we reflect on some athletes from previous eras that could have made some serious money! 

Which former NCAA superstars could have done well in this new era? Our Daly Dose Top 5 counts down some very interesting possibilities!

MLB’s biggest disappointments at the All Star break

By Jimmie Searfoss

All-Star festivities are wrapping up as the MLB is looking to begin the second half of its season coming off a very eventful first few months. While there have been many positive events happening thus far in the season, the MLB’s disappointing handling of certain aspects of the game have created a shadow over them. Controversial changes to the rules as well as their handling of the illegal use of sticky substances has given baseball a bad look this year. With the MLB itself underperforming, it was only right to look into who within the league was also underperforming.  

The Minnesota Twins 

What exactly happened here? Coming into the season the Twins were expected to be neck and neck with the Chicago White Sox to compete for the title of that division. Currently they sit in fourth place with a record of 39-50, 15 games behind first place. Although they bolstered their pitching staff this offseason with names like J.A. Happ, Randy Dobnak, and Alex Colome it has been a major weakness. Their team ERA of 4.98 is good for 27th in the league as they have given up the 4th most runs in the league at 432. 

The injury bug has also bitten their offense as Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Byron Buxton have all seen their playing time cut short. Buxton’s injury especially hurt the team as he was putting up MVP numbers in April. 

Based on the trajectory of the team it doesn’t look good for their playoff chances. This is an older team with a very promising farm system. If things get any worse don’t be surprised if they begin to sell as the trade deadline in preparation for another run in the coming years.

The New York Yankees

The Yankees are a mess right now. So far, they had a very mixed season full spurts of winning and long losing streaks. Their biggest concern thus far is their hitting. They have a +1 run differential and have seen hitters like DJ Lemahieu regress a bit. With Lemahieu’s reliable hitting, the team has been missing someone to be consistently on base, leaving them to rely on the home run ball. Their team his hitting a mere .263 which puts them 17th in the league. The one bright spot in their line up has been Aaron Judge, but unfortunately for Yankees fans he cannot hit nine times in the lineup. 

Their largest story however has been pitchers Gerrit Cole and Aroldis Chapman, who each struggled after the MLB began its crackdown on illegal substances. Cole saw major drops in his spin rate and his ERA climb to 4.65 in the month of June. Chapman’s ERA was 2.18 in the month of May. In June, when the substance crackdown had come into effect, his ERA was 11.42 and teams allowed a batting average of .368. This has led to multiple blown saves leading to the Yankees losing games they’re going to need later on to get into the postseason. Every game counts. A blown game now keeps them out of the playoffs later, but if they can’t score the runs needed then they won’t even be in a position to make a run. The Yankees play in a very tough pitching division. If they can’t begin to hit the ball, or make a move to get someone who can, they can kiss this season goodbye. It doesn’t matter though, they still have 27 rings.

The Atlanta Braves

At one-point last postseason the Braves looked like they could be going to the World Series. Now they’d be lucky to make the playoffs. Their pitching has been incredibly mediocre this season. They lack a dominant starter to lead their staff. Their big signing over the offseason, Charlie Morton, was supposed to fill that role and has not. After he had success in his final year in Tampa Bay, he hasn’t returned to form in Atlanta. He has posted a 3.64 ERA and failed to be a consistent Pitchers like Ian Anderson, who pitched exceptionally in last years playoffs, have not taken that next step to build off that previous success. 

Their face of the franchise Ronald Acuna Jr has recently been diagnosed with a right ACL tear, which he suffered while going after a fly ball during a game. This injury really hurts the Brave’s offense which at times really relies on Acuna’s bat to win games.  An injury on this level could be the nail in the coffin for Atlanta’s season.

Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa

White Sox Manager Tony La Russa has arguably one of the most talented rosters in the league. Although his team is leading the division, he hasn’t been able to get out of his own teams’ way. No one knows this more than Yermin Mercedes, a rookie for the organization who began the year red hot at the plate. 

The young hitter famously hit a home run in a ballgame against the Twins that found him up in the count 3-0 in a game where the White Sox ahead by nine. Many criticized Mercedes for hitting the homerun as his team was already up  by a lot and was going to win regardless. La Russa then went on to not defend him from critics but join them against his own player. This caused a stir inside the locker room as well as in the sports world where many were quick to judge La Russa for not backing his own player. A few weeks later Mercedes found himself in a slump, then quickly was optioned to the minors. Mercedes was hitting .182 in his last seven games before being sent down. When it comes to players who have gone through slumps, bigger stars have hit worse and not been sent down. 

Earlier in the year La Russa also found himself confused on the new extra inning rules the MLB had instated. He had not known the rules when it came to the free runner on second base in extra innings and had used reliever Liam Hendricks to run instead of Jose Abreu. 

“I’m guessing you know the rules better. Now I know,” he said when pressed on it in a post-game interview.

A large amount of the fanbase was already not a fan of the White Sox hiring La Russa at the start of the year. He has only fanned those flames since being there. If he doesn’t bring a ring to Chicago, he ought to count his days there.

Regardless of the disappointments, baseball has still been very fun this year. The rise of players like Shohei Ohtani and Fernando Tatis Jr have brought more eyes to the game than in recent years. Hopefully in the second half of the season those same eyes see less disappointments and controversy throughout the league. With the way the MLB is run, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Daly Dose 06-30-21 The best of the Daly Dose

This week on the Daly Dose, we are flashing back to a throwback episode of the Daly Dose! 

It was August of 2015 and NFL training camps were opening, Hard Knocks was covering the Houston Texans, and we discussed our love/hate relationship with the NFL preseason. 

We talked about why people either loved or hated Tim Tebow so much, and how much of an impact that the media had on his playing career. 

NFL linebacker James Harrison had a major problem with participation awards, we looked at some teams to watch down the stretch in the MLB regular season, and Notre Dame was looking for more ways to make money. 

Then in honor of National Senior Citizen Day, we counted down the Top 5 Senior Citizen athletes of all time!

Who are the best umpires in MLB?

By Jimmie Searfoss

Getty images

Umpires have been on the hotseat more than ever these days. With many networks implementing a live strike zone in their broadcasts, baseball fans are getting to see firsthand the accuracy of who is calling balls and strikes, and many aren’t liking what they’re seeing. Yet despite the implementation of a live strike zone, there has not been a convenient way for fans to judge how good umpires really are at calling balls and strikes, until Ethan Singer and Ethan Schwartz created just that.

Singer and Schwartz, both undergraduates at Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania respectively, run the website www.umpscorecards.com, as well as the @umpscorecards twitter page which has amassed 87,000 followers since its creation in August 2020. Their page brings umpiring to the Statcast era by breaking down an umpire’s performance behind the plate using advanced metrics, some even created by Singer, based on information from baseballsavant.com or even the MLB itself.

The morning after a game, their twitter page will release a tweet featuring a scorecard for each game. Each scorecard features the accuracy, consistency, favor, missed calls, worst missed calls, outside the strike zone accuracy, and inside the zone accuracy of the umpire behind the plate for that game. The statistics are organized and explained in such a way that is easily digestible for fans.

Their website, www.umpscorecards.com goes into even more depth. The site features a complete catalog of all the games they have logged, every specific umpire’s statistic, and statistics on how much of an impact umpires have had on each MLB team this season. Just as important as everything else, however, is their glossary page, which breaks down any statistic or word the average fan might not be familiar with.

The information on the umpires statistics lays out every umpire that has called a game from behind the plate this season. Every stat is featured on this page the same way a stat sheet would be displayed on a site like baseball-reference.com. Although the umpires are organized alphabetically, the viewing can be customized by clicking on a specific stat to see who the best in that specific category is. This can change the way fans watch the game. For example, fans who partake in sports betting might especially pay attention to the page. Especially if they are betting on a game where an umpire has been consistently shown to favor one team over another or been particularly inconsistent when calling balls and strikes.

For even more information, the site provides a link to Singer’s personal website https://ethan-singer.com/projects.html. This website features his personal work both in relation to the umpscorecard page as well as outside of it. His work in relation to the umpscorecard features multiple papers explaining how he put together the statistics found on his page. Singer explains in depth how he came about his equations used on the stats page, what they mean, and why they are important on the outcome of the game. 

He also updates his statistics to make them as accurate as possible. In his project “Umpire Miss Probability”, Singer explains his change to how he interoperates what is considered a strike. While he originally had his stat as whether the umpire got the call correct based on if the ball touched the strike zone, he discovered the MLB’s tracking system was off on average about .25 inches both horizontally and vertically. 

“Instead of determining the designation of a pitch simply based on its measured location, I assign each pitch a probability that it was a strike and a probability that it was a ball. And from there, I can easily derive the probability that a specific call was incorrect. Finally, only if the incorrect call probability is greater than 95% do I consider the call to truly be incorrect,” said Singer.

While they are not the first to break down how well an umpire does their job behind the plate, they are one of the first to make it easily accessible to fans through their twitter page. Player’s stats are constantly fed to fans on every medium, and in a sport where the umpire plays such a vital role on the outcome of a game, it was overdue for baseball to have a page with a large reach that holds umpires accountable the same way a player would be. 

Daly Dose 06-23-21 The Dose is back and we have learned so much

This week on the Daly Dose, we return after taking a week off for vacation, and we break down vacationing in this odd era. 

The NCAA takes a big hit from the Supreme Court, that could have long reaching implications.

Then we are discussing all the things that we have learned over the past couple of weeks in sports! Is the Kardashian curse over? Why does the NBA hate Nikola Jokic? How are the Los Angeles Clippers still in the NBA Playoffs? 

Plus, what’s going on with the Dallas Mavericks? Who are the Boston Celtics blaming for their problems? We also look at some really good news for one Big 10 basketball program., and we should also probably get ready for college football to be back, and better than ever!

Finally, with Lebron James pulling an “I told you so” to the NBA Playoffs and all of their injuries, our Daly Dose Top 5 counts down five other predictions that Lebron has made in his illustrious career. Does he really have special powers? Is he really a seer into the future? We investigate as only we can!

Major League Baseball gets no respect

By Jimmie Searfoss

There is a lack of respect when it comes to Major League Baseball. A lack of respect from the young fans, who don’t find it exciting enough to watch. There is a lack of respect from the diehard fans, who have lost their interest in the game due to the new rule changes. Most importantly, there is a lack of respect from the players themselves, who have been outspoken, even mocked, the direction the game is headed, and the only people to blame is the MLB front office.

The MLB’s latest headline is its crackdown on pitchers doctoring baseballs with foreign substances. Beginning June 21st pitchers will now be inspected after every inning, or after coming out of the bullpen for substances by umpires who will check their hat and glove. 

This is a rule change that needed to happen. However, the way the MLB implemented the rule, and the backlash from pitchers around the league has created chaos around the league.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Sergio Romo walked off the mound in Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers and before he got to the dugout, he was stopped by an umpire for an inspection. Romo, who had just given up a run that inning, was visibly not pleased with the new requirement. He proceeded to throw his hat, belt, and glove onto the turf, then pulled his pants down in mockery to the new rule umpires must now enforce. Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer pulled a similar stunt in his start on Wednesday by undoing his belt to prove he was clean.

Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Tyler Glasnow and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer have particularly been outspoken against the rule change. 

“I just threw 80 something innings & you just told me I can’t use anything. I have to change everything. I truly believe 100% that’s why I got hurt. I’m frustrated MLB doesn’t understand. You can’t just tell us to use nothing. It’s crazy,” said Glasnow in a postgame interview. 

Bauer also reflects these views.

“They didn’t get a whole lot of this right,” said Bauer in an interview with Sportsnet LA.

To implement a rule that will change the way the sport is played three months into the season is rash and unprofessional from a league that is supposed to represent ‘Americas Pastime’. The league did not even need to wait until next season to implement this rule. The All-Star break, or even another set date a month or two down the line to give pitchers the opportunity to adjust would have sufficed. Instead, they felt the pressure and made a rushed and vague rule to throw into the game.

In the same interview with Sportsnet LA, Bauer demonstrated the sticky results of a mix of sweat and rosin by holding his hand in the air while a ball stuck to it. If a player is sweatier in one inning than another, causing the ball to stick more when mixed with the legal substance of rosin, how is an umpire going to determine if it was sweat or another substance? 

“Umpires haven’t been trained to know what is sticky and what isn’t. And like, if I can hold a ball like this obviously it’s illegal right, except it’s not,” said Bauer, “It’s a mess.”

The mess the MLB is currently in is a case of history repeating itself. In the early 2000s the MLB was infamously tarnished by the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) which led to an increase in home runs. Players like Barry Bonds who began their careers lean ended up becoming a massive hulk of a player at the turn of the century. With home runs on the rise and players becoming unnaturally large unnaturally fast, it was obvious something wasn’t right. When the scandal finally broke on the amount of PED users within the MLB, the league became forever linked to cheating. It’s biggest athletes, like Bonds, who had been linked to PED’s lost all respect they had gained through their career.

The same signs had been there when it came to pitchers doctoring the ball. It is inexcusable for the MLB to claim more pitchers had been cheating than expected when the statistics had been there for it all along. The MLB sent a memo to all 30 teams at the beginning of the season announcing it would be tracking spin rates closely to crack down on cheating this year. Why did they start monitoring closely this year? These stats have been available for years. In the Statcast era of baseball there is a number for every aspect of the game. When players such as Gerrit Cole, Brandon Woodruff, and Tyler Glasnow along with many other pitchers had managed to drastically increase the spin rates on their pitches around the same time of each other, it should have caught the MLB’s attention. Yet the MLB ignored it, like a high schooler putting off a paper, and much like a high schooler, rushed something together and turned in at the last minute. 

The NBA experienced something similar in its 2021 season. Its players had found a loophole in the rules and had exploited it. Players began to lurch forward unnaturally after a jump shot to draw contact from the defender thus causing a foul on the defense. It had created a lot of controversy around the league and with its fans. However, after the season, the NBA announced it was going to revise the rules in the offseason in a way to prohibit the unnatural movements of players during a jump shot. The NBA gave itself time to figure out their new rules and train their referees on how to call them. 

It’s time the MLB took a page out of its fellow sports leagues book, because a player pulling his pants down is not a good look.