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Alonford James Robinson

The third of eight children, Henry Louis Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama, to Estella and Herbert Aaron. His first experience with professional baseball came in the Negro Leagues, as he moved up through the ranks with the Pritchett Athletics, the Mobile Black Bears, and the Indianapolis Clowns. In 1952, the Boston Braves of the newly integrated major leagues signed Aaron to play shortstop in their farm system. Moving from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to Jacksonville, Florida, Aaron made it to the majors in 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves (now the Atlanta Braves).

Aaron is considered by some to be the best baseball player in history. Over his twenty-three-year major league career, Aaron compiled more batting records than any other player in baseball history. He holds the record for runs batted in (RBIs) with 2,297, and was a Gold Glove Winner in 1958, 1959 ...

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Luther Adams

boxer, civil rights activist. Perhaps one of the most recognized people in the world, Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa (Grady) Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. He was named in honor of his father and the white Kentucky abolitionist Cassius M. Clay. Clay attended the all-black Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky, graduating 376th out of a senior class of 391. Ali has been married four times: to Sonji Roi, Kalilah Tolona (formerly Belinda Boyd), Veronica Porsche, and Yolanda Ali. He has been married to Yolanda since 1986, and has seven daughters and two sons, including Laila Ali, a boxer in her own right.

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Larry R. Gerlach

baseball umpire, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Littleton Ashford, a truck driver, and Adele Bain. Ashford was two or three years old when his father abandoned the family, so he grew up under the strong influence of his mother, a secretary for the California Eagle, an African American newspaper published in Los Angeles. As a youth, Ashford exhibited the traits that marked him in adult life as a gregarious extrovert. At Jefferson High School he was a sprinter on the track team, a member of the scholastic honor society, and the first African American to serve as president of the student body and as editor of the school newspaper. He graduated from Los Angeles City College and attended Chapman College in nearby Orange from 1940 to 1941. From 1944 until 1947 he served in the U.S. Navy.

Ashford began his umpiring career ...

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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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Jason Philip Miller

professional football player, was born in Oakland, California, to Geneva Moore and a father he would never get to know. His parents split when he was three years old, and his mother relocated the family to Omaha, Nebraska, where she had relatives and where she was able to get work at a local packinghouse. From a cousin, a youth sports coach, Briscoe learned a love of sports and athletics that would last the rest of his life.

Briscoe attended local schools, including South Omaha High, where he was both a football and basketball standout. He graduated in 1962 and accepted a scholarship to the University of Nebraska Omaha Black quarterbacks were at the time still a rarity but Briscoe had occasionally played the position at South Omaha High and he wanted to continue in college His new coach Al Caniglia recognized his talent and offered him the quarterback ...

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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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Michael C. Miller

Hall of Fame football player, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, to Roosevelt Brown, a railroad worker, and Catherine Jackson Brown. He attended Jefferson High School, where he played trombone in the school band because his father forbade him from playing football. The football coach saw Brown and decided that a 180-pound thirteen-year-old should be playing football, not trombone. Rosey's father, who was worried because Rosey's uncle had died from a football injury, finally relented after Rosey played a full season injury free in 1945. Brown played four years of high school football, graduating in 1948.

After high school, Brown attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, mainly because his high school coach was an alumnus. Brown was a standout lineman on the football team and was named to the 1952 Negro All-America team selected by the Pittsburgh Courier He also wrestled while in college and ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, football coach, college administrator, lawyer, and public servant, was born in Dabney, North Carolina, to former slaves Jesse Bullock and Amanda Sneed Bullock. Looking for better educational prospects for their seven children and perhaps seeking to escape Ku Klux Klan harassment, his parents moved the family north when Bullock was eight years old. After a brief stay in Boston, the family settled in Everett, Massachusetts, in about 1894, where Bullock first made a name for himself as an athlete. At Everett High School he excelled at football, baseball, and ice hockey, and his teammates elected him to serve as the captain of each of these teams his senior season.

After graduating in 1900 Bullock entered Dartmouth College which like many schools outside of the South admitted black students and encouraged them to participate in the life of the school Bullock took advantage of the wide range ...

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James S. Hirsch

boxer who was wrongfully convicted of triple homicide in two racially charged trials, was born in Delawanna, New Jersey, the son of Bertha, a homemaker, and Lloyd Carter, an entrepreneur and church deacon who stressed to his seven children the importance of family pride and unity.

The Carters moved to nearby Paterson when Rubin was six years old, and the youngster soon developed a reputation for brawling, rebelling against authority, and committing petty crimes. At seventeen he escaped from Jamesburg State Home for Boys, where he had been sentenced for cutting a man with a bottle, and joined the army. As a member of the Eleventh Airborne, he was sent to Germany, where he learned to box and won the European Light Welterweight Championship.

Discharged from the army in 1956 Carter returned to Paterson but was soon in trouble again The following year he pled guilty to robbing ...

Article

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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Byron Motley

baseball player-manager, was born Lorenzo Davis. The only child of John, a coal miner, and Georgia, a housewife, Lorenzo earned the nickname “Piper” after his hometown of Piper, Alabama. Although he would never make it to the major leagues, which did not accept blacks until 1947, his is one of the premier names in the annals of Negro League baseball history.

Gifted scholastically, Davis often claimed that he should have been valedictorian at all-black Fairfield Industrial High School but that administrators passed him over in favor of a pregnant student. The truth of that claim is unknown, however. The coal miner turned athlete did, however, earn a partial basketball scholarship to Alabama State University in Montgomery. Forced to quit after a year for financial reasons, he found employment in the Birmingham steel mills. In 1938 he married Laura Perry and had a son, Lorenzo, Jr. the ...

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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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Rachel Cody

basketball player who broke the color line in the Big Ten basketball, was born in Shelbyville, Indiana, the eldest son of Laura and Leon Garrett, a clerk and a laborer, respectively. At the time Indiana was segregated by a patchwork of law and unspoken custom, and Shelbyville had segregated grade schools but an integrated high school.

Garrett grew up playing basketball on the dirt court behind Booker T. Washington, Shelbyville's black elementary school. Fast, agile, and dominant, Garrett was a natural center though only six feet, two inches tall. He honed his skills by competing in pick-up games against grown men, some of them semiprofessionals barnstorming around Indiana.

On 22 March 1947 Garrett led Shelbyville High School s basketball team to the Indiana state championship before a live audience of fifteen thousand and a radio audience of over two million Garrett s Shelbyville basketball team was the first ...

Article

baseball player, was the oldest of five sons born to Elijah Green Sr., a public works employee, and Gladys Green, a welder. A talented but not particularly strong ballplayer, Green made history on 21 July 1959, when he became the first black player for the Boston Red Sox, integrating the final club in Major League Baseball (MLB).

Born in Boley Oklahoma Green moved with his family to Richmond California just outside of Oakland while very young When Green was a toddler his mother called him Pumpsie a nickname that would last for the rest of his life As the minor league baseball affiliate the Oakland Oaks enjoyed local popularity Green warmed to the sport at an early age He played middle infield at El Cerrito High School though he also started on the varsity basketball team and competed against the better known high school McClymonds whose ...

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Arthur Ben Chitty

author, black activist, and clairvoyant, was born near Sewanee, Tennessee, to a college student, Edward H. Wicks, later a Texas attorney, and Lena Green, a fourteen-year-old kitchen servant and daughter of a privy cleaner who had been a slave. In Green's own words, he was “a half-white bastard.” His mother died when he was eight, and he was reared by Mattie Davis, a sympathetic neighbor who worked as a domestic. He did not finish the second grade and was largely self-taught. His phenomenal vocabulary came about because, as he said, “I studied from every man who would talk to me.”

Green s youth up to age eighteen was spent in Sewanee the site of the University of the South He worked odd jobs such as shining shoes carrying spring water to the third floor of dormitories and selling peanuts at sports events He had ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

professional football player and entrepreneur, was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey, to an African American father, Cad Harris, and an Italian mother, Gina Parenti. Franco, one of eight children, had three brothers (Mario, Kelly, and Pete, who played safety at Pennsylvania State University in 1977–1978, when he was named a first-team All American, and in 1980) and four sisters (Daniela, Alvara, Marisa, and Luanna). His parents met in Italy near the end of World War II and eventually settled in the United States. Harris was a star running back at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, New Jersey. Graduating in 1968 Harris attended Pennsylvania State University on a football scholarship As a freshman at Penn State Harris who was 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds earned playing time primarily as a ...

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Ramona Hoage Edelin

professor, coach, and civic leader, was born in Chester, South Carolina, the eldest of sixteen children of William Charles and Susie (Jackson) Lewis. Only five of the children lived past early childhood. Lewis's father was born on 11 March 1854, the son of an enslaved woman. He was permitted to obtain an education by learning with the white children of the household and, later, by attending public school. He later taught school in Chester County, South Carolina. He and Susie, always a homemaker, raised their surviving children in a two-story house and farm on York Road in Chester.

William Charles Lewis II attended the Brainard Academy in Chester, a private school of the Presbyterian Church. He graduated with a three-year trade certificate in harness making from Virginia's Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University) and in 1907 was a football player and coach ...

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Jerry Malloy

Negro League baseball player and manager, was born in Palatka, Florida. The names of his parents are not known. His father died when Lloyd was an infant, and he was raised by his grandmother after his mother remarried. A grade school dropout, he began his career on the sandlots of Jacksonville, Florida, at age nineteen.

Mild-mannered, clean-living, and genial, Lloyd had high cheekbones, a lantern jaw, and piercing eyes. Similarities in physique, temperament, style, and talent led to comparisons of Lloyd to white baseball's preeminent shortstop, and Lloyd was often called the “black Honus Wagner.” Connie Mack felt that the two were of equal caliber and Honus Wagner himself remarked After I saw him I felt honored that they should name such a great ballplayer after me Like Wagner Lloyd at five feet eleven inches and 180 pounds was a big man for a shortstop with long arms ...

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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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Michael C. Miller

hockey player, was born in Montreal, Quebec, to a Nigerian father, who returned to Nigeria shortly after Tony's birth, and a Canadian mother who put him up for adoption. Larry McKegney, a chemist, and Cathy McKegney, both white, adopted one-year-old Tony, one of five children they adopted, and raised him in Sarnia, Ontario. Even though he was the only African American in his neighborhood, and one of only twenty in a town of 50,000, he felt accepted.

A gifted athlete McKegney played football baseball basketball and hockey He knew early that hockey was his future and like most Canadian boys dreamed of a career in the National Hockey League NHL To help develop his and his brothers skills his father built a skating rink in their backyard He played junior hockey in Sarnia becoming the star of the Sarnia Blackhawks before moving up to major juniors in ...