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Betti Carol VanEpps-Taylor

Tuskegee athletic coach, was born in Yankton, South Dakota, to Elbert B. Abbott, a stonemason, and Mollie (Brown) Abbott. Abbott grew up in Watertown, South Dakota, attending Watertown public schools, where he was a superior student and athlete. He graduated from high school in 1912 with an unheard-of sixteen Arrow letters in athletics.

Abbott entered South Dakota State College in Brookings, South Dakota, in the fall of 1912, selecting a dairy science major and joining the athletic program. His outstanding athletic and academic performance attracted the attention of the college president Ellwood Perisho, an acquaintance of Booker T. Washington Washington promised Abbott a job at Tuskegee contingent on his continued scholastic excellence Abbott did not disappoint maintaining his high marks and earning fourteen athletic letters in four years in track football baseball and basketball In this last he played center captained the team and was named All ...


Leslie Heaphy

infielder for the Kansas City Monarchs Negro Leagues baseball team, was born Newton Henry Allen in Austin, Texas. The names and occupations of his parents are unknown. Allen attended Lincoln High School, Kansas City, Missouri, and played ball for the Kansas City Tigers while still in school, before leaving to play for the Omaha Federals in 1921. While handling the middle of the infield for the Federals, Monarchs owner J. L. Wilkinson saw the youngster play and signed him to his All-Nations ball club. After only one season with the All-Nations, Allen was promoted to the Monarchs in 1923.

Allen played for twenty-three seasons in the Negro Leagues. Most of his playing time was spent at either second base or shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the original teams in the Negro National League established in 1920 In addition to playing for Kansas City Allen ...


Adam W. Green

baseball player and manager, was born Felipe Rojas Alou, in Haina, Dominican Republic, to Jose Rojas, a carpenter/blacksmith and grandson of a slave, and Virginia Alou, a homemaker and Caucasian daughter of a Spanish migrant. The second Dominican-born player in major league baseball, Alou was one of three baseball-playing brothers and became the first Dominican to manage in the big leagues.

Alou grew up with five younger siblings in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot house his father had built in the village of Haina. For much of his childhood, food came from where Alou and his family could scavenge it: using bamboo poles and construction wire to fish in the Haina River or climbing coconut trees and scouring for other fruit. Baseball equipment was scarce in the poor village, and Alou and his brothers would play with lemons or coconut husks for balls and their hands for bats.

Alou traveled to ...


Byron Motley

baseball player-manager, was the eldest of five Negro Baseball League playing brothers born to Garnett Bankhead, a coal miner, and Ara Armstrong, a housewife, in Empire, Alabama. Before becoming one of the Negro Leagues' most popular players, Samuel “Sam” Howard Bankhead spent his youth playing in sandlots around his hometown when he wasn't working the coal mines. In 1929, his professional baseball-playing days began with the Birmingham Black Barons, but he would move from team to team.

A five tool ballplayer Bankhead s Negro League Baseball career spanned two decades The five foot eight inch 175 pound dynamo consistently hit for average hit with power possessed a rifle like throwing arm excelled at fielding and was a leading base stealer throughout the 1930s and 1940s His lifetime batting average of 318 and versatile abilities earned him seven East West All Star berths at five different positions ...


Paul Stillwell

pioneer black naval officer, was born in Oberlin, Ohio, one of five children (two boys and three girls) of James and Margaret Barnes. James, from North Carolina, was a chef at Oberlin College, and Margaret, from Kentucky, ran a family laundry. Soon after they married, Barnes's parents settled in Oberlin to raise their family because of the community's liberal atmosphere. They were aware of the role the town had played as a way station on the Underground Railroad for fugitive slaves in the nineteenth century. Barnes received the bulk of his education in Oberlin. He graduated from high school there in 1932 and was elected to the National Honor Society. In 1936 he graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor s degree in Physical Education He was an outstanding athlete who played end on the college s football team and starred on the track team He established a ...


Byron Motley

baseball player-manager, was the youngest of two children born to Charlie Brown and Viola Brannon in Pratt City, Alabama. Little is known about Larry's father, a man of mixed race with whom he had little to no relationship. His mother, a domestic worker, was his rock. Upon her death in 1918 thirteen-year-old Brown was left to raise himself and found employment with a local meat-packing company. The youngster began playing with the company's all-black team and soon found the baseball diamond to be his refuge.

At age seventeen Brown began barnstorming with the Knoxville Giants and later with the Pittsburgh Keystones. His official rookie season in the Negro Leagues was in 1923 when he joined the Indianapolis ABCs. On 28 May 1923 after only nine games he was released because of poor performance A few weeks later Brown found himself in a Memphis Red Sox uniform and although ...


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 ...


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 ...


Dália Leonardo

field hockey player, field hockey coach, and educator, was born Gloria Jean Howard in Salem, New Jersey, to Roosevelt and Ida Mae Howard. Her father worked on a farm, and her mother as a domestic employee; neither of her parents finished high school. Byard grew up in Woodstown, New Jersey, in an old farm house with no running water, bathrooms, or heating. She has described her adolescence as “challenging”—following her brother's death she took on additional responsibilities as the eldest sibling, playing an active role as caregiver to her five youngest sisters. As a counterbalance to her busy and demanding home-life, Byard relied on her love of field hockey and her athletic ability as a source of inspiration and hope for future successes. In high school she began reading field hockey rule books and imagining someday being profiled in such a publication.

After graduating from Woodstown ...


Thomas A. Mogan

basketball coach and educator, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to Earley Chaney (whose maiden name is not now known) and a father he never knew. The oldest of three children, Chaney grew up in a poor section of Jacksonville called Black Bottom. Chaney's mother was a domestic worker for a white lawyer's family in the Riverside section of the city. Although Chaney never met his biological father, his stepfather, Sylvester Chaney, was a major influence in his life. Chaney's experience of childhood poverty would play a major role in his lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the student-athletes under his charge.

Chaney moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of fourteen when his stepfather got a job at the Veteran's Hospital. Chaney emerged as a basketball star at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia. Despite being named the MVP of the Philadelphia Public League in 1951 he ...


John B. Holway

The son of Tom and Mary Jeanette Charleston, Oscar Charleston was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His father was first a jockey and later a construction worker. Oscar Charleston attended the public schools in Indianapolis and ran away at age fifteen to join the United States Army. In the Philippines he played ball for the 24th Infantry, ran on the track team, and was the only African American in the Manila League. Returning in 1915 to Indianapolis, he joined the Indianapolis ABCs, considered one of the best black baseball teams of that era. He played center field with the black St. Louis Giants, the Harrisburg Giants, the Philadelphia Hilldales, and the Pittsburgh-based Homestead Grays. Along with most of the Grays, including one of the Negro League's greatest hitters, Josh Gibson, Charleston jumped in 1932 to the rival Pittsburgh Crawfords where he became manager and first baseman The ...


Charles Orson Cook

Negro Leagues superstar and manager, with a career in professional baseball that spanned almost forty years and more than a dozen teams. Oscar Charleston was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on 14 October 1896, and as a lad he was the batboy for the local Indianapolis ABCs, a Negro team. In 1910 he left home to join the army, at the age of fourteen. He was stationed in the Philippines, where he played baseball and ran track as a sprinter. Charleston was mustered out of the service and returned to his hometown in 1915 there he joined the ABCs where he established himself as a left handed power hitter and a southpaw outfielder of extraordinary speed and agility From his center field position Charleston claimed to be able to cover the entire outfield one unconfirmed account has it that his outfield teammates covered only foul territory allowing him to ...


David Bernstein

baseball player and manager, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Tom Charleston, a construction worker, and Mary Thomas. The seventh of eleven children, he served as a batboy for a local professional team before enlisting in the army at age fifteen. While stationed in the Philippines with the black Twenty-fourth Infantry, Charleston honed his athletic skills in track and baseball, becoming the only African American player in the Manila baseball league in 1914. Following his army discharge a year later, he joined the Indianapolis ABCs at a salary of $50 per month. The American Brewing Company sponsored the ABCs, but C. I. Taylor, Negro League pioneer, directed day-to-day operations.

Charleston nicknamed Charlie was a five foot eleven inch 185 pound center fielder who batted and threw left handed Described as barrel chested he would have difficulty maintaining his weight as his career progressed He played a ...


CanadianFootball League player, coach, sports executive, and philanthropist, was born Michael Lutrell Clemons in Dunedin, Florida, to Anna O'Neal and Willy James Clemons. The diminutive Clemons earned his nickname in the CFL because, according to Bill O'Billovich, the Toronto Argonauts' head coach, he resembled a pinball when bouncing off of would-be tacklers. His parents never married; Anna raised Michael, while Willy stayed largely at the periphery of his son's life. Later, Anna married and gave birth to Kelli, while her new husband added two children of his own to the family.

Clemons grew up in the projects of a predominantly black working class community His family and neighbors struggled economically at one point Clemons an excellent student and math whiz even helped his mother s boyfriend run a numbers racket Still Clemons and his mother were devout attendees of the local Baptist church ...


Robert Fikes

, gymnast and coach, was born in south central Ohio and raised in Summithill, the son of Blaine Coons, a farmer, and Grace (maiden name unknown), a barber. When Orlando was seven years old his grandfather sold the family farm and he and his mother moved from Summithill to Los Angeles, California. At age fourteen he first saw a champion gymnast perform when he used a complimentary pass to the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Although the sport aroused his interest, he lacked the means to train for it. Orlando graduated from Jefferson High School.

Coons went on to find work in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a job that landed him in San Diego in 1935. In 1938 he enrolled at San Diego State College majoring in engineering He worked odd jobs to support himself among them pouring cement for sidewalks and providing room service at the U ...


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 ...


Larry Lester

baseball player and manager, was born in Topeka, Kansas. His parents’ full names and occupations are unknown and little is known about his childhood, though according to a 1910 census, De Moss was living at home with his mother, Eley, a widow. In 1905 he began his baseball career as a shortstop with the Topeka Giants. Although his speed allowed him to cover extensive ground, an injured arm that year from a brief outing as a pitcher caused him to switch to second base. He is generally recognized as the best second baseman in black baseball prior to the formation of the Negro National League in 1920.

De Moss made appearances with strong independent teams such as the Kansas City (Kansas) Giants from 1910 to 1912, the French Lick (Ind.) Plutos from 1913 to 1914, the Saint Louis Giants in 1913 the West Baden Ind ...


Jason Philip Miller

Negro League baseball player and manager, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Little information is available about his upbringing or early years. It appears he attended college, though where exactly he did so is not clear.

Dismukes's long baseball career as a pitcher appears to have begun with the East St. Louis Imperials in 1908. He went on to play with a number of minor teams over the next few years: the Indianapolis ABCs (1909); the St. Louis Giants (1912); the Philadelphia Giants (1913); and the Brooklyn Royal Giants (1914). That year, he ended the season on the mound in an ultimately unsuccessful playoff series against Rube Foster's storied Chicago American Giants.

After the 1914 season, Dismukes returned to the ABCs, which had recently been bought by C. I. Taylor. Taylor's team would go on to achieve a ...


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 ...


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 ...