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Jackie Robinson
Over fifty years after Jackie Robinson's historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, black athletes shine brightly throughout the sports world. Branch Rickey's "Noble Experiment" paved the way for generations of black athletes from Althea Gibson to Muhammad Ali to Michael Jordan.

Horse racing was dominated by outstanding black jockeys in the late 1800s.

Black jockeys won at least 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derbys. Isaac Murphy, by far the most famous and most successful black jockey, was the first to win three Kentucky Derbys and the first jockey to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga, N.Y. He won on 628 of his 1,412 mounts.

Willie Simms, the last black jockey to win the Preakness in 1898, is the only jockey to have won all the Triple Crown races. He also is credited with introducing the short stirrup to professional riding.

But soon, horse racing became an elite world in which blacks were not allowed. The Jockey Club was formed and blacks were systematically squeezed out of the elite world of horse racing. By the mid-1920s, all but a handful of black jockeys were gone.

''Once economics, big money came into racing, the black jockey was pushed out,'' said Inez Chappell, president of the Baltimore-based group African-Americans in Horse Racing. ''And racism is still alive. There are black jockeys out there, but they do what they have to do. They claim to be Jamaican or something else.''

Source : By The Associated Press 1997


In 1915, Pollard was allowed to play football at Brown University, joining Paul Robeson, who entered Rutgers the same year, in breaking the color barrier in big-time college football.

During his football career, Pollard often was forced to change clothes in closets, was refused shower services, traveled separately from his team, was spat upon by fans, had his hands cleated by opponents and rarely jogged onto the field until moments before kickoff.

Nevertheless, he starred as a player. Pollard led Brown to the first Rose Bowl. He also was the first black player named to Walter Camp's All-America list.

But as professional football began gaining acceptance, its leadership started believing that having blacks on its teams would hurt gate receipts. By 1932, professional football was rid of blacks altogether.

In 1988 Debi Thomas became the first black woman to win a medal in Olympic figure skating.

In 1992, Jair Lynch became the first African-American man to win an Olympic medal in gymnastics when he took the silver medal in the parallel bars.

In 1996 Dominique Dawes became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics.


The first professional basketball game was played in Trenton, New Jersey in 1896. However, it took over 55 years for the first African American to play professional basketball. In 1951, Sweetwater Clifton of the Harlem Globetrotters became the first African-American to sign an NBA contract (Knicks); Chuck Cooper was the first drafted (Celtics); and Earl Lloyd, playing one day before the other two, became the first African-American to play in the NBA (Washington Capitols). Due to the segregation of the sport The Harlem Globetrotters was one way athletes could play this sport for money.

1940's Globetrotters
1940 Harlem Globetrotters team

1926 Abe Saperstein, age 24, organizes and coaches a new basketball team, "Savoy Big Five," named after famous Chicago's Savoy Ballroom. "Savoy Big Five" consisted of Tommy Brookings, William Grant, Inman Jackson, Lester Johnson, Joe Lillard, Randolph Ramsey, Walter Wright, and William Watson. Jackson, Johnson, and Wright formed the nucleus of the first Globetrotters team.

1927 Saperstein's team makes its debut on January 7 in Hinckley, Illinois, before a crowd of 300. The total payout for the game was $75. The team wore uniforms with NEW YORK on them; no doubt in giving the crowd the impression they were from that city. Saperstein would later add his family name to the jersey thereafter, "Saperstein's New York Globetrotters."

1930 The team name was changed to the Harlem New York Globetrotters; lending emphasis that all players were black.

1932 The Globetrotters are five years old. The team opens the tour on Thanksgiving Day at Brewster Center in Detroit. For the first time, the Globetrotters were playing in a major city.

1934 The Globetrotters play their 1,000 career game in Iron Mountain, Michigan. The team finished with an incredible 152-2 record.

1939 The team plays in its first professional basketball championship tournament and was defeated by the New York Rens. The Globetrotters begin to clown around and the crowd loved it. After the game, Saperstein informed his players that it was OK to add more clowning in the games, but only when they had established a safe lead on the scoreboard. Inman Jackson initiates the team's "Clown Prince" of basketball role and created the pivot position now used by all levels of basketball.

1940 The Globetrotters play their 2,000th career game in Bellingham, Washington, and conclude the regular season tour with a 159-8 record. Returning to Chicago, the team accepts an invitation to compete in the World Professional Basketball tournament. The Harlem Globetrotters even up the score with the New York Rens, as they defeat the Rens in the semi-finals. In the finals, the Globetrotters defeat George Halas' Chicago Bruins in overtime, 31-29, and capture their first-ever World Basketball Championship. The Globetrotters return to Chicago Stadium and play a game against the College All-Stars before a crowd of 22,000.

After WWII

1946 The Harlem Globetrotters celebrate their 20th season, as they play their 3,000th career game in Vancouver, British Columbia. With the end of World War II, the Globetrotters make their first-ever overseas trip to the United States Territory of Hawaii. The team plays in front of American GI's and huge crowds during a 17-game series. After 20 years, 3,000 games, a World Championship, and a .927 winning percentage, the Globetrotters begin gaining national and international recognition for themselves and the sport. Time LIFE Magazine features the team in the Dec. 2, 1946, issue.

1948 On February 20, the Cinderella team, consisting of Ermer Robinson, Ducky Moore, Sam Wheeler, Goose Tatum, Marques Haynes, Babe Pressley, Ted Strong, Vertes Ziegler, and Wilbert King defeat George Mikan, Jim Pollard and the World Champion Minneapolis Lakers, 61-59, before a crowd of 17,823 at Chicago Stadium. The 1948 season also marked the beginning of Robert "Showboat" Hall's career with the Globetrotters. "Showboat" Hall was the master of the fast passing game and he could do every ball handling trick imaginable. "Showboat" was a true magician, as he would pull the ball out of thin air and make it disappear.

1950 The Globetrotters compete in the inaugural World Series of Basketball tour against a team of College All-Americans. The All-American team was selected from a college coaches poll and included Bob Cousy, Kevin O'Shea, Paul Arizin, and Dick Schnikker. The college standouts were coached by Ray Meyer, Hank Iba, and Clare Bee. The Globetrotters finished the tour with a 11-7 record, as the 18-game tour attracted an attendance total of 181,364. For the first time in National Basketball Association (NBA) league history, the NBA decides to sign black players. Shortly after, the Boston Celtics sign Duquene star Chuck Cooper and the New York Knicks purchase Nathaniel "Sweetwater" Clifton's contract from the Harlem Globetrotters for $25,000. Since the Knick's season begins one day earlier than the Celtics, "Sweetwater" Clifton becomes the first-ever black athlete to play in the NBA.

1951 The 25th anniversary tour begins and is highlighted by the team's 4,000th career game. On April 9, a United States record crowd of 31,684 fans watched the Globetrotters defeat the College All-Stars, 55-34 at the Rose Bowl. Overall, the 18-game series attracted an attendance of 216,370. On April 25, Globetrotters embark on their first South America tour. The tour highlight is when the team played before a crowd of 50,041 fans at Rio de Janeiro's Estadio Municipal. On August 21, the Globetrotters play before 75,000 fans packed into Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Just prior to the game, a helicopter lands on the field and emerging from the helicopter was the Globetrotters' special guest, 1948 U.S. Olympian Jesse Owens. The team performed for an audience of one, Pope Pius XII at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy.

1952 The Silver Anniversary is celebrated with a 108-game around the world tour, the first in the history of basketball. In April, the Globetrotters receive a letter from Meadow George Lemon requesting a tryout with the team. Lemon was given a look, and after serving two years in the Army was signed to a contract. He played his first season with one of the Globetrotter developmental teams, the Kansas City Stars. With the departure of "Goose" Tatum, the door opened up for Lemon. His first assignment was to be an understudy to "Rookie" Brown on the South tour and his name was changed to "Meadowlark" Lemon. The Harlem Globetrotters capture their third straight "World Series of Basketball" title in 1952. Sweet Georgia Brown became the team's official them song in 1952.

The Globetrotters post another all-time attendance record, as 36,256 fans watch a game at Los Angeles' Memorial Coliseum, becoming the largest United States basketball crowd on record. Because of their winning tradition, the Globetrotters are finding it more and more difficult to find opposition teams to play. Saperstein contacts his friend, the basketball expert Louis "Red" Klotz, to develop a team to oppose the Globetrotters. This is the beginning of "Red's" famous teams variously known as the Washington Generals, Boston Shamrocks, Baltimore Rockets, New York Nationals, Atlantic City Seagulls, and the New Jersey Reds. On November 14, the Globetrotters make their first national television appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show." It was estimated that 77-percent of American households were watching the show that night.

Meadowlark Lemon1954 "Meadowlark" Lemon, one of the great Harlem Globetrotters, begins his first season with the Globetrotters' East team. Lemon would wear the famous red, white and blue colors for 24 years. The Globetrotters become the first sports attraction to play under the lights at Chicago's Wrigley Field, as Saperstein arranges for portable lightning to be brought in for the game.

1956 The Globetrotters popularity was so huge that four separate teams were on tour, playing seven days a week. In fact, the Globetrotters were playing more games each year than the entire NBA. In Peru, a nasty civil war is put on hold for four days to allow the Globetrotters to play a few games. When the team's plane departs the war resumes.

1958 Abe Saperstein signs Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain to a contract in 1958. Considered by many as the game's greatest offensive force, Chamberlain played one season with the Globetrotters before joining the NBA for 14 years (1959-73).

1959 The Globetrotters play their 7,000th career game in 1959 and also post their first undefeated season as they finish with 441 wins. The team makes their first trip to Moscow to begin a sold-out tour of the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe.

The Sixties

1961 Hubert "Geese" Ausbie joins the Globetrotters after attending the team's training camp that included competition from more than 500 players from around the country. He is a quiet gentleman off the court, but during the games "Geese" gains a reputation as one of the funniest, most outrageous players in team annals. He would serve as the team's "Clown Prince" from 1961 to 1985.

1962 In a stunning upset, the Globetrotters lost a game to the Washington Generals. This is one of the two games the team will lose over the next 8,964 games.

1963 The Globetrotters make their 13th annual tour of Europe and perform before a private audience of Pope Paul VI. "Curly" Neal, one of the team's magical shooters and dribblers, signs with the Globetrotters. Neal spends 22 seasons with the team and became one of the greatest all-time dribblers.

1964 As an opening attraction at the New York World Fair, the Globetrotters defeat the Canadian Dominions. The world was shocked as Associated Press reported that the Globetrotters had lost to a team of British stage comics and television celebrities from London, England. Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Phillip, was a reserve player on Lord Taverners team - a sports and social club which raised money for charities.

1966 On March 15, the Globetrotters organization mourns the loss of founder/owner Abe Saperstein, who died at age 63. The year also marked the team's 40th anniversary. Overall, the Globetrotters have played 8,945 games, suffered only 330 losses, and played in more than 1,200 cities and 82 foreign countries.

1968 The team plays its first game in Harlem, New York, 41 years after the team's debut in Hinckley, Illinois.

The Seventies

1970 Abe Saperstein was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, a town where the sport was created by Dr. James Naismith. The Globetrotters play their 10,000th career game, as they defeated the Washington Generals, 83-74 in Miami Beach, Florida. On September 5, a new television cartoon series debuts on the CBS Network, "The Harlem Globetrotters Show."

1972 On December 13, a new television variety series, "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine," makes its network debut. The show was a one hour musical-variety special broadcast on CBS-TV.

1973 Never wanting television audience to lose sight of Globetrotters legendary basketball ability, Stan Greeson reached an agreement with ABC-TV for exclusive network television coverage of the Harlem Globetrotters games by the prestigious "Wide World of Sports" program. Each January, a game was taped somewhere in the world and shown on this highly acclaimed sports series.

An indoor record crowd of 31,122 packed the Louisiana Superdome for the Globetrotters game in New Orleans. For the first time in history, the Globetrotters name an honorary member to the team, bestowing the honor to Dr. Henry Kissinger.

The Globetrotters celebrate their 50th season. Entertainer and comedian Bob Hope was named as an honorary Harlem Globetrotter.

The Past 20 Years

1980 The 1980 Winter Olympic Games take place at Lake Placid, New York, with the Harlem Globetrotters serving as Olympic Games official "Goodwill Ambassadors." The Globetrotters entered their seventh decade of basketball wizardry, playing in over 15,000 career games, visiting 97 countries, and appearing in more than 1,300 cities in North America.

1982 The Globetrotters become the first and only sports team to be honored with their own star on Hollywood's famous "Walk of Fame."

Media around the world report on the Harlem Globetrotters signing the first female player, Olympic Gold Medallist Lynette Woodard. The Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American Social History honors the Globetrotters with their own exhibit on permanent display.

Mannie Jackson becomes the first African-American and former player to own a sports/entertainment organization with his acquisition of the Harlem Globetrotters during a special ceremony in Harlem before a crowd of thousands.

Celebrating their 70th anniversary, the Harlem Globetrotters become history's first professional basketball squad to play in a free democratic South Africa in June. On September 16, 1996, Globetrotters Michael "Wild Thing" Wilson and Sean "Elevator" Williams establish a Guinness Book World Record for the vertical slam-dunk at a 11 feet, 8 inches.

1998 The Harlem Globetrotters play their 20,000th career game at Tri-County High School near Remington, Indiana, on Jan. 12. The game, played before a standing-room-only crowd, was also the first-ever live national network game broadcast, airing on ESPN2. The game also attracts national headlines in USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. On Sept. 11th, the Globetrotters signed 7-1 center Jerome James, a 1998 second round draft pick of the NBA's Sacramento Kings. Former Globetrotter dribbler Marques Haynes becomes the first player to enter the Basketball Hall of Fame as a Harlem Globetrotter on Oct. 2nd. Oct. 20th marks another significant milestone in team history, as the Globetrotters visit their 115th country by touring Zagreb, Croatia for the first time.

On Jan. 8th, the Globetrotters named track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee an "Honorary Harlem Globetrotter" at the team's annual tour stop at Kiel Center in St. Louis. Joyner-Kersee becomes just the sixth person ever to be bestowed the honor, joining Dr. Henry Kissinger (1976), comedian Bob Hope (1977), actress-comedian Whoopie Goldberg (1989), basketball hall of famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1989), and President Nelson Mandela of South Africa (1996).


Because of a pernicious "Gentlemen's Agreement" in pro baseball, Blacks were excluded from playing major league baseball with whites. The need and desire to play, however, could not be repressed. As early as 1884, Blacks had organized their own teams and then their own leagues.

Black professional baseball teams blossomed by the turn of the century, and by 1920, a black professional baseball league was formed. The "Negro National League" had franchises in major cities around the country, including Chicago, Kansas City and Detroit. Several years later, a "Negro American League" was established, and an all-black world series was held annually.

The first black major league baseball player was not Jackie Robinson but probably Bud Fowler, who played for a Newcastle, Pennsylvania team in 1872. In 1884, Moses Fleetwood Walker, a bare-handed catcher and graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, played for Toledo in the old major league American Association. However, in the 1880s, as segregation was becoming established as a way of life, these and other blacks were increasingly excluded from major league play, continued to the minor leagues, and gradually eased out.

In the early 1900s, John McGraw, the great manager of the New York Giants, tried three times with short-lived success to bring black ball players on to his team. They were represented as American "Indians" but soon were exposed and McGraw was forced to release them. The men were Charles Grant and Jose Mendez, pitcher, and Andrew Foster, a pitching coach who had taught Christy Mathewson. In 1925 a black Latin, Ramon Herrera, played for the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps unknown, other blacks "passed" successfully during the 1888-1946 period.

Satchel PaigeBlacks and whites did, however, play openly against one another. Starting in 1884, blacks organized their own teams and then their own leagues. To these teams came some of the great, unheralded baseball players of all time: George Stovey, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and of course Satchel Paige, and in the 1940s, to the Kansas City Monarchs, Jackie Robinson. In the 1920s, pitcher Smokey Jo Williams and his team, the Lincoln Giants, shut out the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies 1 to 0 in an exhibition game in New York after the World Series. Henceforth, no more exhibition games between whole major league teams and black teams were permitted. But individuals of both races did play beside and against one another, especially in Winter Baseball in the Caribbean, where blacks excelled.

Black professional baseball teams blossomed at the turn of the century. In the 1920s, a black professional baseball league was formed primarily through the efforts of Andrew "Rube" Foster, a black baseball pitcher who in 1905 had won 51 of 55 games. The "Negro National League" had franchises in Indianapolis, Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis. Several years later, a Negro American League was established and an all-black world series was annually held.


Andrew "Rube" Foster Organized the First Successful Black Professional Baseball League called The Negro National League (NNL).
The Eastern Colored League (ECL) is Formed by Ed Bolden.
The First World Series between NNL and ECL was held.
The Eastern Colored League folds.
1929 The American Negro League (ANL) is formed but folds after one year of existence.
Rube Foster dies.
The NNL collapses due to lack of leadership and organization.
East-West League and Negro Southern League (NSL) are formed but all fold after one year.

A New Negro National League (NNL) is formed by Gus Greenlee.

Gus Greenlee organizes the First Annual East-West All-Star Game.

The Negro American League (NAL) is formed.
First World Series is played between The NNL and NAL.

Jackie Robinson becomes first Black to play in The Major Leagues by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Larry Doby becomes first Black to play in The American League.


The Negro National League disbands.

The legendary Satchel Paige finally joins The Major Leagues at age 42.

The Negro American League's last year.


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