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April Yoder

best known as the youngest of Major League Baseball’s Alou brothers, was born on 24 March 1942 in rural Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic. The fourth of six children born to José Rojas, a carpenter and blacksmith, and homemaker Virginia Alou, Jesús María Rojas Alou attended secondary school in Santo Domingo. He left school at the age of 15, before completing his degree, to play professional baseball. Horacio Martínez, the scout who signed his brothers Felipe and Mateo, saw the potential for the youngest Alou to play in one of US baseball’s major leagues (the American League and the National League) despite his preference for fishing over formalized baseball.

Alou began his career in the Dominican Republic as a bullpen pitcher for the Leones del Escogido Escogido Lions and spent his first season in US baseball as a pitcher with the San Francisco Giants affiliate in Hastings Nebraska During the ...

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April Yoder

was born on 22 December 1938 in Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic. The third of six children born on the farm of José Altagracia Rojas García, who also worked as a carpenter and blacksmith, and Virginia Alou, Mateo Rojas Alou began playing baseball as a child. By the age of 18, he had risen to the highest level of amateur baseball in the Dominican Republic: Double A. By this time, in 1956, his older brother Felipe had already signed with the New York Giants, and managers and coaches across the country predicted that the younger Rojas Alou would follow in his brother’s footsteps. A year after he returned from Mexico, where he played alongside rising Dominican stars such as Manuel Mota and Juan Marichal in the first Youth Baseball World Series in 1956 Mateo signed a professional contract with the Giants scout Horacio Martínez the same scout who ...

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John Herschel Barnhill

horse trainer and show rider, was born on the Bass Plantation near Columbia, Missouri, to Cornelia Grey, an African American slave, and William Hayden Bass, the white son of the plantation owner. He was reared by his maternal grandfather, Presley Grey. By the 1890s his prowess as a horse trainer was known throughout the world of saddle horses. His horses won championships and well over 2,000 blue ribbons. He met five presidents, and he rode in several inaugural parades.

Tom was riding at age 4 and jumping at age 6. While working at the town hotel as a bellhop and buggy driver, he trained rogue horses part time. In 1879 he began working for Joseph Potts in Mexico as a trainer Saddle horses were highly prized during this era and Potts and his partner sold only the top of the line Potts s Thornton Star was one of the ...

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Kate Tuttle

James P. Beckwourth, born of mixed-race parentage in Fredericksburg, Virginia, escaped an apprenticeship to a St. Louis, Missouri blacksmith and went west, taking a job with the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He became an experienced trapper and fighter in the sparsely settled western territories. In 1824 the Crow Indian tribe adopted Beckwourth, who then married the daughter of the chief and earned such renown in battle that he was renamed Bloody Arm. Although he left the tribe after several years—and after earning honorary chief status—he continued a lifelong friendship with the Crows.

Criss-crossing the western and southern frontiers, Beckwourth worked as a guide, prospected for gold, served as a United States Army scout during the third Seminole War and was a rider for the Pony Express He also worked with California s Black Franchise League in an effort unsuccessful at the time to repeal a law barring blacks from ...

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Lisa E. Rivo

mountain man, fur trapper and trader, scout, translator, and explorer, was born James Pierson Beckwith in Frederick County, Virginia, the son of Sir Jennings Beckwith, a white Revolutionary War veteran and the descendant of minor Irish aristocrats who became prominent Virginians. Little is known about Jim's mother, a mixed-race slave working in the Beckwith household. Although he was born into slavery, Jim was manumitted by his father in the 1820s. In the early 1800s, Beckwith moved his family, which reputedly included fourteen children, to Missouri, eventually settling in St. Louis. Some commentators suggest that Beckwith, an adventurous outdoorsman, was seeking an environment less hostile to his racially mixed family.

As a young teenager, after four years of schooling, Jim Beckwourth as his name came to be spelled was apprenticed to a blacksmith Unhappy as a tradesman he fled to the newly discovered lead mines in Illinois s Fever ...

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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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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in Laurel, Mississippi, the youngest of ten children born to Peter and Eulalia Boston. His father, who worked as a fireman for the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad before losing sight in his right eye, provided for the family by farming, hauling junk, and doing other odd jobs. His mother was a homemaker. As a student at Oak Park High School in Laurel, Boston developed both academic and athletic skills. As quarterback on the football team, he led Oak Park to the African American state high school football championship in 1956. In track and field, Boston excelled in the hurdling, sprinting, and jumping events. As a junior in 1956 he established a national high school record in the 180-yard low hurdles and led Oak Park to the first of two consecutive African American state high school track championships.

After graduating high school in 1957 Boston earned ...

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Dália Leonardo

hockey player, was born in Bedford, Indiana, the youngest of three children of the Canadian Nicole Gauthier and the American Johnny Brashear. His great uncle, Carl Maxie Brashear, made history in 1970 as the first African American to rise to the ranks of master diver for the United States Navy. Brashear grew up in a household marked by domestic violence and his father's struggle with alcohol addiction, and was repeatedly the victim of physical assaults starting when he was just an infant. Even after his parents' separation, Brashear remained with his father and when he was six years old was reunited with the rest of his family, which by then included a stepbrother, Danny Roy Brashear s new home in Loretteville Quebec wasn t any safer as he was particularly targeted by his stepfather Gerard Roy who emotionally and physically abused him His mother eventually placed ...

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Robert Janis

professional football player and businessman, was born in Clairton, Pennsylvania, the first of three sons of Lawrence Brown, a baggage handler for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Rosa Lee, a housemaid. The family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when Brown was only two years old. He began playing football in his junior year at Schenley High School in Pittsburgh. He chose football over baseball because he thought he had a better chance to attain a college scholarship in football. Prior to his junior year, Brown played baseball. He said that his father encouraged him to play baseball because it was a game one could play as an organized sport at a young age. His dad loved baseball and was an excellent player in his own right, though he did not play professionally but rather with neighborhood friends.

Brown played fullback in high school primarily because he had good blocking skills He ...

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Pellom McDaniels

football player and businessman, was born in Gainesville, Alabama, one of four children of Wallace Buchanan, a steelworker, and Fannie Mae Buchanan, a bank employee.

At Birmingham's prestigious Arthur Harold (A. H.) Parker Industrial High School, known as the “largest Negro school in the world,” (Carolyn McKinstry interview). Buchanan worked diligently to master his growing physical stature and athletic ability. Reaching six feet five inches in his senior year, Buchanan became a star athlete and was voted captain of both basketball and football teams. For Buchanan, as well as others who attended A. H. Parker from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s, the instructors were responsible for providing the students with a sense of race pride and inspired them to achieve beyond the expectations of the outside world.

In addition to the teachers at A H Parker High School Buchanan had several coaches and mentors who influenced ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

His mother’s maiden name was Jones. Carey graduated from Santa Clara University in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. A running back on the SCU football team, he played for four years until an ankle injury ended his playing career. In 1972 Carey began officiating Pop Warner football games in San Diego and, in 1985, became a college football referee for the Western Athletic Conference. In 1990 the National Football League (NFL) hired him as a line judge and in 1995 promoted him to referee. Carey, who became the second African American referee in the NFL since Johnny Grier in 1988, served as an alternate official for Super Bowl XXXVI between the New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams on 3 February 2002.

On 3 October 2005 Carey officiated the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers with his older brother ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the eldest of the two children of Jetta Clark and Dr. Joe Louis Clark. The Clarks lived in Newark, a short distance from her birthplace, until moving to South Orange after the 1967 riots. Her father, who served as the principal of Eastside High School, in Paterson, New Jersey, gained national attention for enforcing discipline and improving academic achievement at Eastside, one of the state’s toughest inner-city schools, and became the subject of the 1989 film Lean on Me, in which the award-winning actor Morgan Freeman portrayed him.

Clark performed with the Alvin Ailey Junior Dance Company until the age of fourteen, when she began to participate in track, concentrating on the half-mile (880 yards), the distance at which her father excelled at William Patterson University (then known as the Paterson State Teachers College) in Wayne, New Jersey. Interviewed for the Best ...

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Donna L. Halper

radio personality and advertising executive, was most likely the first black announcer in the history of broadcasting, on the air as early as 1924. His successful radio career would span four decades and make him a wealthy man. Cooper did not come from an entertainment background. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he was one of ten children of William and Lavina Cooper. Jack Cooper quit school after the fifth grade to help support his impoverished family. He held a number of low-paying jobs and for a time got interested in boxing, winning more than a hundred bouts as a welterweight fighter. But he found his calling on the vaudeville stage, where he became a singer and dancer, beginning in 1905 and continuing well into the 1920s. He was more than just a performer, writing and producing skits and entire shows, often in collaboration with his first wife Estelle ...

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David Borsvold

NFL football player and entrepreneur, was born William Delford Davis in rural Lisbon, Louisiana, to David Davis, a laborer, and Nodie Bell Davis. The family struggled in the poverty of the Depression and Davis's parents instilled in him a strong work ethic. He attended Booker T. Washington High School in Texarkana, Texas, where he played football for coach Nathan Jones. As Davis grew tall and athletic, Jones emphasized that a big, strong man could also be intelligent and could transcend commonly held misconceptions about athletes.

Willie was the first member of his family to go to college, entering Grambling University on a football scholarship and playing for the legendary coach Eddie Robinson Majoring in industrial arts with minors in mathematics and physical education he excelled in both sports and academics serving as team captain and making the dean s list in both his junior and ...

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Jane Poyner

Boxer and ex‐slave from Tennessee, United States, who made a number of trips to England to fight. Dobbs was born into slavery in Knoxville, Tennessee, and picked cotton until he was 15. A slight man, standing 5 feet 8½ inches and weighing just 9 stone 9 pounds, he trained as a lightweight and welterweight. During his illustrious career he fought over 1,000 matches, not retiring until he was 60. In 1898 he made his first trip to England, where, in an infamous fight with Dick Burge he was offered a bribe by a bookmaker of £100 a huge sum in those days to lose the fight He agreed to the deal and was provided with laxatives before the match but switched with a friend who bore some resemblance to him and who was willing to take the medication Dobbs won the match On the same trip he knocked out ...

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Jason Philip Miller

basketball player, was born Julius Winfield Erving III in Hempstead, New York, and raised by a single mother, his father having abandoned the family when Julius was only three years old. Since his family life was difficult to cope with, Julius spent a great deal of time on the streets and playing basketball at the local community courts. Julius received his familiar “Dr. J” moniker during a childhood pickup game; it was a nickname that would stick with him throughout his long and astonishing basketball career. By the time Julius was ten years old, he was playing with a local Salvation Army basketball team. He had already learned how to dunk—albeit on Prospect Elementary's lower baskets—and in just a few short years he was able to dunk the ball on regulation posts.

When Erving was thirteen, his mother remarried, and in 1963 the family relocated to nearby Roosevelt ...

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During his career Julius Erving—known to fans and announcers as Dr. J—set new standards of performance in his sport and made the slam-dunk into one of the most exciting moves in professional Basketball.

Julius Winfield Erving Jr. was born in East Meadow, New York. He grew up playing basketball on New York City playgrounds and then for Roosevelt High School. He recalled, “My first [slam] dunk was at the Prospect Elementary School, where they had 8-foot baskets and 13-foot ceilings. By the time I was in ninth grade, I was dunking the regular baskets.” Erving attended the University of Massachusetts, and during his sophomore and junior years (1969–1971), he led his team in scoring in forty-six of fifty-two varsity games.

In 1971 Erving left school to join the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association (ABA). He was named rookie of the year for the 1971 ...

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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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John B. Holway

Foster, Rube (17 September 1879–09 December 1930), baseball player and executive, was born Andrew Foster in Calvert, Texas, the son of the Reverend Andrew Foster, presiding elder of the African Methodist Episcopal churches in southern Texas. His mother’s name is unknown. At age seventeen the six-footer pitched batting practice against white major league clubs doing spring training in Fort Worth, Texas. Foster played with the black Leland Giants of Chicago. In 1902 he joined the Cuban Giants, actually a misnamed Philadelphia team of American blacks. He recalled pitching for $40 a month, plus fifteen cents for meals, and confidently called himself “the best pitcher in the country.” He reportedly won his nickname, Rube, by defeating the Philadelphia Athletics pitching ace Rube Waddell, probably in 1902, when he ranked among the best pitchers, black or white, in America.

John McGraw manager of the New York Giants ...

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Gerald Early

Rube Foster was born Andrew Foster in Calvert, Texas, the fifth child of the Reverend Andrew Foster, presiding elder of the American Episcopal Church of Calvert, and his wife. Growing up in a post-Reconstruction world of strictly enforced racial segregation backed by white terrorist violence, Andrew attended the segregated school in Calvert. As a boy Andrew had a knack for baseball, the most popular sport in America at the time. His father, a devout churchman, tried to discourage him from playing, but he persisted and even organized a team while he was still in grade school. Indeed, he was so drawn to the game that he quit school after the eighth grade to pursue baseball as a career.

Foster began pitching for the Waco Yellow Jackets, becoming a star pitcher by the time he was eighteen. By 1902 he had a reputation for being a tough pitcher ...