Sports

Leroy "Satchel" Paige

Leroy 'Satchel' Paige

Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige

Regarded as the nearest thing to a legend that ever came out of the Negro Leagues, this tall, lanky right-hander parlayed a pea-sized fastball, nimble wit, and a colorful personality into a household name that is recognized by people who know little about baseball itself and even less about the players who performed in the Jim Crow era of organized baseball. His name has become synonymous with the barnstorming exhibitions played between traveling black teams and their white counterparts.

A mixture of fact and embellishment, Satchel’s stories are legion and form a rich array of often-repeated folklore. On many occasions he would pull in the outfielders to sit behind the mound while he proceeded to strike out the side with the tying run on base. Once he intentionally walked Howard Easterling and Buck Leonard to load the bases so he could pitch to Josh Gibson, the most dangerous hitter in black baseball, and then struck him out. He was advertised as guaranteed to strike out the first nine batters he faced in exhibition games, and he almost invariably fulfilled his billing.

Satchel frequently warmed up by throwing twenty straight pitches across a chewing gum wrapper that was being used for home plate. His “small” fastball was described by some hitters as looking like a half dollar. Others said that he wound up with a pumpkin and threw a pea. But Biz Mackey had the best story about how small his fastball looked. He said that once Satchel threw the ball so hard that the ball disappeared before it reached the catcher’s mitt. The stories are endless. But the facts are also impressive.  Continue reading

Jersey Joe Walcott

Jersey Joe Walcott

Jersey Joe Walcott

1914 – 1994. The oldest heavyweight (37) to ever win the championship; lost four championship bouts before knocking out Ezzard Charles in the seventh round in 1951; lost the title the following year, losing to Rocky Marciano; won 50 bouts, 30 by knockout, lost 17 and fought one draw as a professional; later became sheriff of Camden County, NJ.

Jersey Joe Walcott was the picture of perseverance. He won the heavyweight title in his fifth try, accomplishing the feat at the age of 37. He held the record for oldest heavyweight champion until 45-year-old George Foreman won the crown in 1994.

Born Arnold Cream in Merchantville, New Jersey, Walcott took the name of his boxing idol, Joe Walcott, the welterweight champion from Barbados. He turned pro in 1930 at the age of 16 and embarked on a slow, but steady, rise to the top.  Continue reading

Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson

Frank Robinson played for the Orioles from 1966-1971 and in his first season with the Orioles, Robinson won the triple crown and the American League MVP award, becoming the only player to win the award in both leagues. He was also a memeber of the 1966 and 1970 World Series championship teams.

Robinson returned to Baltimore as the team’s manager from 1988-1991, and was named the American League Manager of the Year in 1989. His No. 20 jersey was retired by the Orioles in 1972 and he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

He finished his career a .294 lifetime hitter with 586 home runs and 1,812 RBIs. (Baltimore Sun / July 15, 1968)

The Secret Game: 1st integrated collegiate basketball game in the US South

.nccueaglesDuring the Jim Crow era, African American college teams were barred from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). But a brave few found ways around these restrictions. A secret game held in 1944 between a white team from Duke University and a black team from North Carolina Central University was one of the first integrated sports events in the South.

In early 1944, black and white students from North Carolina Central University and Duke University met at the Durham YMCA for clandestine prayer meetings. A friendly challenge led to a basketball game between the NCCU varsity team and the team from Duke’s medical school to determine the best team in Durham. Continue reading

Joe Louis

Joe Louis

JOSEPH LOUIS BARROW, also called THE BROWN BOMBER (b. May 13, 1914, Lafayette, Ala., U.S.–d. April 12, 1981, Las Vegas, Nev.), American boxer who was world heavyweight champion from June 22, 1937, when he knocked out James J. Braddock in eight rounds in Chicago, until March 1, 1949, when he retired undefeated.

During his reign, the longest in the history of the heavyweight division, he successfully defended the title 25 times, scoring 21 knockouts. His service in the U.S. Army during World War II no doubt prevented him from defending his title many more times.  Continue reading

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