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Jason Philip Miller

professional football player, was born Lemuel Jackson Barney in Gulfport, Mississippi. Information about his upbringing and personal life is difficult to come by. He played football as a young man, attending local schools in Gulfport and playing a multitude of positions—including punter and defensive back—on his high school team. In 1963 he matriculated at the historically black Jackson State, where he made the team and was again a standout. He played three seasons and had twenty-seven interceptions. He also served as the team's punter.

In 1967 Barney graduated with a bachelor s degree in Health and Science and only then entered the National Football League NFL draft He was taken in the second round by the Detroit Lions and it was with the Lions that Barney would spend his entire career His life in the Lions silver and blue got off to an auspicious start Barney playing defensive ...

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Thomas Aiello

basketball player. David Bing was born and raised in Washington, D.C., where he attended Spingarn High School. He starred on the Spingarn basketball team, earning All-Metro honors and in 1962 being named a Parade All-American. That success drew the attention of the University of Michigan and the University of California at Los Angeles, but Bing instead chose to attend Syracuse University, reasoning that he would be more successful at a basketball program with a lower profile. He was correct. In three of his four seasons at Syracuse, Bing led the team in scoring, averaging more than twenty points a game. In his senior year (1966) Bing averaged 28.4 points a game—fifth highest in the country—and was named an All-American. Meanwhile he turned the perennially struggling Syracuse into a winning program. Professional scouts noticed, and in 1966 the Detroit Pistons drafted Bing in the first round of ...

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Nathan M. Corzine

baseball player, was born Andrew Lewis Cooper in Waco, Texas. Almost nothing is known about Cooper's parents or childhood. In fact, beyond his baseball career, Cooper is something of an anonymous figure, and the general dearth of reliable records makes it difficult to paint a clear picture of the man. Given such relative obscurity, his 2006 election to the Baseball Hall of Fame along with sixteen other black baseball players and executives surprised some experts. So unheralded was Cooper that, even though he was deemed worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame, his name is hardly mentioned in Shades of Glory (2006), Lawrence D. Hogan's retrospective of the Negro Leagues, published by the Hall of Fame in conjunction with National Geographic While Cooper s selection elicited some controversy there is no denying that he fashioned an exceptionally successful playing career that placed him among the ...

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John B. Holway

baseball player, was born Raymond Emmitt Dandridge in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Archie Dandridge, a cigarette factory worker, and Alberta Thompson. The family moved to Buffalo, New York, when Ray was ten years of age. There he participated in various sports, including Golden Glove boxing and high school football. The latter sport led to a knee injury that plagued him in his later career. At age twenty he played for the Richmond Paramount Giants against the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League. The Paramount Giants gave his father $25, and Ray, packing a straw suitcase, boarded the bus to play against the Stars. He hit only .211 as a rookie in the Negro National League, and at season's end, he said, the team had to pawn its bus to raise the money to send him home.

Moving to the Newark Dodgers in 1934 Dandridge concentrated ...

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Larry Lester

baseball player, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the son of Ellis Day, a glass factory worker, and Hattie Leet. Leon grew up in the Mount Winans district of Baltimore and finished the tenth grade before dropping out of school. As a youth, he was a fan of the Baltimore Black Sox of the Eastern Colored League, where he met his idol and future teacher, the pitcher Lamon Yokeley. Day's baseball career began in 1934 with the local semipro Silver Moons. A right-handed pitcher, he used a deceptive no-windup delivery to fire off sneaky fastballs and roundhouse curves. He became known as an excellent fielding pitcher and an above-average hitter, and he sometimes played the field so that his bat would remain in the lineup. He quickly caught the attention of the Baltimore Black Sox player-manager Herbert “Rap” Dixon and finished the season with the team earning ...

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Adam W. Green

football player, was born in Sealy, Texas, to Richard Seal and Helen Johnson, both high school sophomores. With his biological parents just sixteen years old at the time of his birth, Dickerson was adopted and raised by the two people he would consider his parents: Kary Dickerson, a railroad track worker, and Helen's great-aunt, Viola. Dickerson was fourteen years old when he learned that Helen, whom he had believed was his sister, was actually his mother. Dickerson showed a propensity for athletics at an early age, starring in football, basketball, and track at Sealy High School. Though he won the state championship for the 100-yard dash in track his senior year, it was his football exploits that garnered him national attention: Parade magazine named him America's top high school running back his senior year in 1978 and he helped lead his high school team to the ...

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Todd Bolton

baseball player, was born in Matanzas, Cuba. Little is known about his parents or his early life. Dihigo's professional baseball career began in 1922 with the Havana Reds when he was just seventeen years old. The following year he made his first trip to the United States to play in the inaugural season of the Eastern Colored League. He was signed by Alejandro Pompez, owner of the Cuban Stars, one of six teams in the new league. Playing initially as a middle infielder, at second base and shortstop, he was immediately recognized by his peers for his skill, ability, and grace on the field. He developed quickly as a hitter. Dihigo returned to the United States each summer to play Negro League baseball. He remained with the Cuban Stars through the 1927 season. In 1926 he led the Eastern Colored League in home runs while posting a ...

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Joe Dorinson

baseball player and Hall of Famer, was born Lawrence Eugene Doby in Camden, South Carolina, the only child of David Doby and Etta Brooks. Abandoned by his father and left behind by his mother, who went north to look for a better life, he lived with his maternal grandmother and was known as Bubba Brooks for ten years. After his grandmother suffered a mental breakdown, he went to live with an Aunt Alice and Uncle James in 1934, at about which time he reclaimed his given name. Larry later remembered the four years that he spent with aunt and uncle, from 1934 to 1938, as the happiest of his young life.

At age fifteen, summoned by his mother, Doby arrived in Paterson, New Jersey, where he set the high school athletic world on fire with sparkling performances in baseball, football, basketball, and track. Like Monte Irvin ...

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Robert Fay

Lawrence Eugene Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina. His family moved to Paterson, New Jersey, in 1938. After graduating from Eastside High School in 1942, Doby attended Long Island University and Virginia Union University. He played his first major league game with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League (NNL) in 1942, but was drafted into the navy in 1943. In 1946 he returned to the Newark Eagles, where he helped them win the NNL pennant and made the all-star team (Negro Leagues). In 139 NNL games, Doby hit a .378 average with 25 home runs.

In 1947 the Cleveland Indians bought Doby's contract from the Eagles. He played his first game for the Indians on July 5, 1947, eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League Though ...

Article

Wesley Borucki

professional baseball player, coach, and manager. Larry Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina, to David Doby and Etta Doby (Brooks). He lived most of his youth in Camden with his maternal grandmother and an aunt and uncle.

Doby developed athletically in Paterson, New Jersey, where he joined his mother in 1938. He was an all-state athlete at Eastside High School. Doby played his first professional baseball game on 31 May 1942 with the Negro National League's Newark Eagles. In 1942–1943 he played basketball at Long Island and Virginia Union universities before conscription into the United States Navy. His fellow serviceman and Washington Senators all-star Mickey Vernon encouraged Doby to pursue professional baseball. Doby played second base for the Eagles, champion of the 1946 Negro World Series. That summer he married his high school sweetheart, Helen Curvy.

Doby played several successful exhibition games against ...

Article

Edward M. Burmila

football player, was born Anthony Drew Dorsett in the steel mill town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, one of seven children of Wes Dorsett, a mill worker, and Myrtle Dorsett. As a child Tony was timid and respectful, a sharp contrast to his older brothers who were wilder and often in trouble. His parents were determined that their youngest son not follow the same path. Wes did hard, dangerous work to provide for the family and looked forward to a future in which his children would not have to do the same. All of the Dorsett siblings had excelled in sports, particularly football, and Tony felt pressure to follow suit. Although he was frail physically and a bit frightened by the game, he began playing football in junior high and displayed the rare speed that his brothers also exhibited.

As part of a school busing plan initiated to remedy ...

Article

Susan J. Rayl

professional basketball player and team owner, was born in St. Kitts, British West Indies. No information is available concerning Douglas's parents or his early education. He observed his first basketball game shortly after arriving in New York City in 1902. In around 1919 Douglas and some friends organized the Spartan Field Club, which offered black New York City youths the opportunity to participate in amateur cricket, soccer, track, and basketball. Coach Douglas's basketball team, the Spartan Braves, were successful, and at times he joined them on the court.

In 1922 Douglas ran into problems with the Metropolitan Basketball Association an amateur organization over the status of a couple of his players Because of this controversy Douglas organized the New York Renaissance a professional basketball team He approached the owner of the Renaissance Ballroom in Harlem agreeing to use the name Renaissance in return for practice and playing ...

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Sheena C. Howard

professional basketball player, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Eunice Drexler Scott and James Drexler. Eunice left James when Clyde was three years old and moved to Houston, Texas. There, Eunice met her second husband, Manuel Scott. Eunice and Manuel worked at Rice Food Market in South Park. They were married for thirteen years. Drexler completed high school at Ross Sterling High School in Houston, Texas, graduating in 1980. In ninth grade Clyde was five foot eight and just an average basketball player. Clyde has said he was much more focused on academics and working at the family restaurant, run by his uncle, Thomas Prevost Going into tenth grade Clyde had grown to six foot two and finally began to dunk the basketball Drexler made the varsity basketball team as a senior in high school and soon received tremendous attention from college ...

Article

Olympic high jump champion, teacher, and track coach, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of six children of Monroe Dumas and Nancy Dumas. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1941, when Dumas was four years old. Beginning high jumping with “the best performance … in his physical education class” in eighth grade (Hornbuckle, 83), Dumas specialized in the event. He shared second place in the city championship in his freshman year at Centennial High School and placed fourth in the state meet. In 1955 at eighteen years of age, he jumped six feet ten and one-quarter inches (2.089m).

In 1955, during his senior year in high school, Dumas set a national interscholastic record of six feet nine and three-eighths inches (2.07m). Shortly after graduating, he shared the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championship with the defending high school champion, Ernie Shelton ...

Article

Thomas Aiello

football player and entrepreneur. Melvin Farr was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, the son of Dorothea Farr, a domestic worker, and Miller Farr, a truck driver. There he attended the segregated Hebert High School, where he played baseball and basketball and earned All-State honors in football and track. Farr played at Hebert in the shadow of his older brother Miller, who went on to play collegiate football at Wichita State before a long professional career as a defensive back. Mel's success, however, drove him far from Wichita or Beaumont: he earned a football scholarship to UCLA in 1963 Although Farr remained healthy throughout his high school career he broke his arm the first of many football related injuries during his sophomore year in college Following that injury Farr was an All American running back as a junior and senior gaining 1 630 yards in those ...

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Michael L. Krenn

boxer, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Little is known of Foster's life before he began boxing. Foster himself admitted that he got into numerous fights as a child and a high school student and was once taken to court for fracturing the skull of another young man with one punch. With few options open to him and a close scrape with the law motivating him, Foster signed up for the U.S. Air Force in 1957, shortly after graduating from high school.

Foster's tremendous punching power soon became evident to his air force commanders during informal inter- and intra-unit boxing matches, and they put him on the service's boxing team. For four years Foster traveled with the team all over the United States and the world. He engaged in well over one hundred fights, losing only three. In 1960 he won the light heavyweight title at the ...

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Sarbjit Singh

Hall of Fame basketball player nicknamed “Clyde” during his professional playing days, was born Walter Frazier Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest of nine children of Walter Frazier Sr. At his all-black high school in the racially segregated South of the 1950s, he mastered basketball on a dirt playground, the only facility available to him. Frazier exhibited an athletic brilliance early in his life, becoming a three-sport star at David Howard High School. He quarterbacked the football team, played catcher on the baseball team, and was a versatile player on the basketball team.

After his success at David Howard Frazier decided to attend Southern Illinois University SIU at Carbondale Illinois Because of racial segregation it was not possible for Frazier to attend major colleges in Georgia such as Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia or any other major universities in the South Frazier was actually offered more ...

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Edward M. Burmila

hockey player, was born to an interracial couple and adopted by white parents, Robert Fuhr, an insurance salesman, and Betty of Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada. Robert Fuhr, an avid recreational golfer and hockey player, encouraged his son's boundless energy and athleticism at an early age. Grant received his first skates at age four, and soon he flooded the family basement, creating an improvised ice rink. His athletic abilities developed rapidly. As a sixteen-year-old student at Composite High School in Spruce Grove he received an offer to join a minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, an offer he summarily rejected to pursue his dream of being a National Hockey League (NHL) goaltender.

With athletics both his primary interest and a potentially lucrative career path Fuhr quit school at sixteen His talents as a goaltender earned him a starting spot on the junior A team of the ...

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professional football player, was born in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh steelworkers Otto and Rose Gilchrist. Gilchrist loved sweets as a child, and was thus given the nickname “Cookie.” He attended Har-Brack High School in nearby Natrona Heights, where he was a star player, leading his team to an area championship in 1953. Though in his youth he had visions of becoming a doctor, Gilchrist's increasingly apparent physical gifts steered him toward sports. A gifted athlete, a bruising runner and blocker—“Cookie” was Jim Brown before there was a Jim Brown. With over one hundred college scholarship offers by his junior year, Gilchrist signed a professional contract with owner Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League NFL Because he was nineteen years old the contract violated NFL rules so Gilchrist left the Browns training camp for Canada where he played in the Ontario Rugby ...

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Roy Doron

Nigerian boxer, second African to win a World Championship title and first to defend the title in Africa, was born Richard Ihetu on 14 August 1929, but he is better known by the name Dick Tiger. He was the third child of Ubuagu and Rebecca Ihetu, a prominent farming family in Amaigbo, who came from a long line of traditional Igbo wrestlers. As a youth, he worked in the Aba market selling bottles that he collected and monkeys that he, along with his brothers, would import from the Ogoni markets. He was prolific in sports but eventually settled on boxing, against his mother’s wishes; he trained at the Emy Boxing Club and occasionally fought at the British Army barracks in Aba. His unorthodox style, which he attributed to his lack of disciplined training, caused the British soldiers to nickname him “Tiger,” a name he kept.

Tiger began his professional ...