Explore Black History Month, a celebration of achievements by African Americans and important milestones throughout U.S. history.
The first Black in major league baseball was Moses Fleetwood Walker, who was a catcher on the Toledo team of the American Assn. in 1884.
The first Black in the major leagues in the modern era was Jackie Robinson, who joined the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 10, 1947. Robinson played his first major league game against the Boston Braves at Brooklyn’s Ebbets field on April 15, 1947.
Larry Doby joined the Cleveland Indians on July 6 and became the first Black player in the American League. Three other Blacks were signed by major league teams in 1947: Dan Bankhead, the first pitcher in the major leagues, Brooklyn Dodgers; Willard Brown, outfielder, St. Louis Browns; Henry Thompson, infielder, St. Louis Browns.
The first Black selected for All-American basketball honors was Don Barksdale of UCLA (1947).
The first Black signed by a National Basketball Assn. team was Charles (Chuck) Cooper, who joined the New York Knickerbockers in April, 1950. The Knickerbockers signed a second Black player, Nat (Sweetwater) Clifton later in the same year.
The first Black world champion in boxing was George Dixon, who won the bantamweight title on June 27, 1890, defeating Nunc Wallace in the 18th round.
The first Black heavyweight boxing champion was Jack Johnson, who won the title on December 26, 1908, knocking out Tommy Burns in the 14th round.
The first Black middleweight champion was Tiger Flowers, who won the title in New York on February 26, 1926, defeating Harry Greb in 15 rounds.
The first Black welterweight champion was Joe Walcott, who won the title at Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, on December 18, 1901, defeating Rube Ferns in five rounds.