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Byron Motley

baseball player, was born in Greenville, North Carolina. As a teenager working in the tobacco fields he honed his skills as a pitcher. His first exposure to professional baseball came in 1936 when the manager of the visiting Wilson Stars from Wilson, North Carolina, spotted his burgeoning talent. After the team manager promised Barnhill's mother a dollar a day for her son's pitching duties, she consented to let her son join the team.

Barnhill barnstormed for two years with several independent teams. In 1938 he began his first of twelve Negro League seasons by joining the Jacksonville Red Caps. The following year, with the Ethiopian Clowns, Barnhill took part in the team's minstrel sideshows. Earning the nickname “Impo,” Barnhill cut up with his teammates in clown makeup and wild wigs while performing comic displays to delighted fans.

In the winter of 1940–1941 Barnhill pitched in the Puerto Rican ...

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Stephen Eschenbach

politician, journalist, and Negro League professional baseball pitcher, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of four children. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a nurse. His mother wanted him to pursue medicine, but Brown was interested in sports and studying social problems. After preparing at Howard Academy in Washington, D.C., Brown went to Harvard.

Brown majored in economics but also played baseball, lettering as a left-handed pitcher. He worked his way through Harvard as a janitor and waiter. During summer breaks he was a Red Cap at Grand Central Station in New York, and also played in the Negro Leagues. In 1923 and 1924 he pitched for the New York Lincoln Giants Interestingly Harvard usually aggressive about enforcing early NCAA rules barring athletes from playing professional sports apparently did not punish Brown when he played in the professional ranks before returning to the Harvard baseball ...

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Donald Scott

educator, activist, and baseball pioneer, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Sara Isabella Cain, a woman from a prosperous mixed-race family, and William T. Catto, a Presbyterian minister. When Catto was about five years old, his father relocated the family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after being “called” to the city by the Presbytery and after some time to the ministry of the First African Presbyterian Church, a historic black church formed by the Reverend John Gloucester, a former slave, in 1807.

As a youngster Catto attended a number of Philadelphia-area public schools, including the Vaux Primary School. By 1854, though, he was enrolled in the newly opened Institute for Colored Youth, the forerunner of historically black Cheyney University, just south of Philadelphia.

William Catto and other black ministers convinced the Quaker administration to focus on classical topics including Latin Greek and mathematics and not just ...

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Luke Nichter

dentist, politician, and Negro Baseball League officer, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. A member of a prominent Memphis family with four brothers who all played roles in baseball in that city and beyond, John B. Martin, a dentist, was a co-owner and a club officer of the Memphis Red Sox and the Chicago American Giants. He also served as the president of three different leagues: the Negro Southern League (NSL), the Negro American League (NAL), and the Negro Dixie League.

Together with his brother, B. B. Martin, also a dentist, John B. Martin took over the Memphis Red Sox in the late 1920s from funeral director Robert S. Lewis and built a ballpark they called Martin Stadium Martin also owned a hotel next to the park and operated the concession stand Beyond baseball Martin also served the community as a pharmacist dentist real estate ...

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Todd M. Brenneman

athlete and attorney, was born in Selma, Alabama, to William Henry Matthews, a tailor, and Elizabeth Abigail Matthews. Little is known about his early childhood, but he attended Tuskegee Institute from 1893 to 1896 and came to the attention of Booker T. Washington, who arranged for him to attend Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts in 1896. At Andover Matthews excelled at football, baseball, and track as well as academics. He was also popular with his classmates who gave him a silver loving cup, a large cup that has multiple handles on it so it can be passed around to various people at a banquet, at graduation.

As successful as he was at Andover, Matthews truly came into his own as an athlete during his college career. Enrolling at Harvard in 1901 Matthews earned places on the varsity football and baseball teams in his freshman ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Tuskegee aircraft mechanic and Negro League baseball player, was born in San Antonio, Texas. His parents' names are unknown, as are details of his childhood. He was nicknamed “Sonny Boy” in high school, where he played baseball and graduated in 1940. He went on to play basketball while a student at St. Phillips Junior College in San Antonio.

Miles left home for Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1943 He attended Tuskegee Institute and was trained as a civilian aircraft sheet metal worker Miles would later say about his time at Tuskegee As soon as I heard about Tuskegee I knew it was what I wanted to do I really wanted to learn a trade and work with my hands It sounded like a once in a lifetime opportunity so I jumped on the chance Maurice 1 At the time Tuskegee Institute was part of a new experiment ...

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Jesse J. Esparza

educator. Born in Monticello, Mississippi, Roderick Raynor Paige has always been committed to public education. The oldest of five children and the son of public-school teachers, he earned his diploma from the Lawrence County Training High School in Monticello. He then enrolled in and graduated from Jackson State University, earning a bachelor's degree. Paige also earned an EdD in physical education from Indiana University at Bloomington.

Paige originally distinguished himself in coaching college-level athletics, first as head football coach at Utica Junior College in Mississippi from 1957 to 1962 and then as head football coach at Jackson State University from 1962 to 1969. In 1971 he moved to Texas Southern University in Houston, where he served as both the university's head football coach and athletic director. He became an assistant professor and then from 1984 to 1990 served as dean of Texas Southern s College of Education As ...

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Christopher Devine

baseball player and activist, was born Welday Wilberforce Walker in Steubenville, Ohio. He was the fifth of six children born to Moses W. Walker, a physician and minister. He was reared, along with the rest of his siblings, by Caroline (O'Harra) Walker, but Weldy's death certificate lists his mother as Maria Simpson. This information was supplied to the coroner by Walker's nephew Thomas Gibson, who in the early 1920s claimed not to know Weldy's mother's identity. It is unclear whether the change in Gibson's information evidences newfound knowledge, a disclosed Walker family secret, or fiction. Walker's first name likely paid homage to the local pioneer Alexander Welday (although when and why Walker changed its spelling is unknown), and his middle name likely honored the English abolitionist William Wilberforce.

Steubenville where Walker would spend most of his life was a racially progressive town known for ...

Article

David A. Joens

, educator, athlete, and politician, was born in Alton, Illinois, the fourth of seven children raised by Jesse White, the owner of a janitorial service, and Julia Mae White, a-homemaker. In 1943 White's family moved to Chicago, where he attended Schiller Elementary School and Waller High School (later Lincoln Park Academy). A star athlete in high school, White earned all-city honors in both basketball and baseball. He attended Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) on a scholarship and earned all-conference honors in both sports. After graduating from Alabama State with a degree in Physical Education, White signed a contract to play baseball for the Chicago Cubs organization. Shortly after the contract was signed, the U.S. Army drafted him. White spent two years in-the army (1957–1959), serving as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division.

In 1959 he received an honorable discharge from the army ...