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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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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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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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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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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 ...

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Jules Tygiel

Born in Georgia and raised in Pasadena, California, Jackie Robinson attended the University of California at Los Angeles where he excelled as an All-American football player, and in basketball, broad jump, and baseball. Robinson later played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League.

In 1945, Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, selected Robinson to become the first African-American player in major league baseball since the 1890s. His promotion to the Dodgers in 1947 triggered opposition from other players. Nonetheless, he batted .297, won the Rookie-of-the-Year Award, and led the Dodgers to the pennant. Over the next decade, playing mostly second base, Robinson emerged as one of the most dominant players and foremost gate attractions in baseball history, winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949 compiling a 311 lifetime batting average and winning election to the Baseball Hall of Fame ...

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David Bernstein

baseball player and manager and chronicler of early “blackball” years, also known as “Sol,” was born in Bellaire, Ohio, an industrial town across the Ohio river from Wheeling, West Virginia. Nothing is known of his parentage or early life. In 1883 White began his baseball career with a three-year stint with his hometown Bellaire Globes, an amateur team barnstorming the Ohio Valley. In 1886 White moved to the Wheeling Green Stockings of the Ohio State League and, after an abortive seven-game 1887 season with the Pittsburgh Keystones of the National Colored League, he returned to the integrated Wheeling club, reportedly batting .370 for the remaining fifty-two games, including 84 hits and 54 runs. Meanwhile, segregationist practices solidified in major league baseball, represented by Chicago star Adrian “Cap” Anson's July 1881 refusal to play against a team with a black player To play African American players filled the rosters of ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

and the only formerly enslaved man to play Major League Baseball in the United States, was born in Milner, Georgia, the son of Andrew Jackson (A.J.) White, a wealthy plantation owner and railroad president, and a woman who by the laws of Georgia at the time was his chattel property, named Hannah.

Andrew White’s will, written in 1877, left his entire estate to White, and his sisters, Anna Nora White and Sarah Adelaide White, “the children of my servant Hannah,” to be educated at schools in the North. The 1880 census shows Hannah White still living in Andrew White’s household in Georgia, listed as servant. The work of Peter Morris, for the Society of American Baseball Research, indicates that Hannah White had both African and European ancestors (her mother, Sarah, believed to be fully “black,” was born in Maryland around 1820 and her children likely about 75 percent ...

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Charles Ford Williams

battalion chief in the New York City Fire Department, was born in New York City, the eldest son of James H. Williams, chief red cap (porter) of the New York Central Railroad station (now Grand Central Terminal), and Lucy (Metrash) Williams. Williams spent some of his early childhood years with his mother's family in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he attended the Marvin Elementary School. In 1903 the Williamses moved to the Bronx after Williams's father started working as a porter and they later moved to Harlem. When Williams was twelve years old he won a roller-skating contest thanks to the training advice of Charles Ramsay, his aunt's neighbor. Ramsay taught Williams the principles of Benarr Macfadden s Physical Culture philosophy to breathe fresh air eat fresh foods rich in vitamins and exercise through progressive resistance training It was believed that by following these principles one could maximize physical ...

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Donna L. Halper

for the Negro American League, was born John Lake Caution, Jr. in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children of John Lake Caution, a mill worker, and his wife Annie C. (Collins). Annie Collins’ mother, Julia C. Collins, authored the first non-autobiographical novel by an African American woman to appear in print, The Curse of Caste; or the Slave Bride (1865).

Frank s early years were difficult his mother died when he was five and several years later his father was killed in a mill accident He and his siblings were taken in by their paternal uncle and aunt Cornelius and Ella Caution who lived in Cambridge Massachusetts However Ella died a few months later and the four children were sent to an orphanage where they were all eventually adopted his sister Ethel by a Boston widow named Mary M Davis his brother Russell by an aunt ...