UNPARALELLED UNCOMPROMISED UNFORGIVEN UNSUNG
INSIDE SPORTS SCORE BOARD
WIZARDS TURN TABLES ON NETS BOUNCE BACK TO WIN 99-90
Guard Bradley Beal led 6 players in double figures with 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assist.
Team basketball was the key to victory. There were 6 players scored in double figures led by center Marcin Gortar. He had 10 points and a season-high 16 rebounds as Wizards outrebounded the Nets, 49-38. Nene outmuscled Net defenders and finished with 20 points and six rebounds. Bradley Beal added 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and John Wall contributed 11 points, six assists and six rebounds.
THE WAY WE WHERE: HELLO TO AN OLD FRIEND!
DC Legendary playground, Notre Dame and NBA basketball great Austin Carr surprises his former high school coach Paul Furlong. Carr a native Washingtonian visits his former Mackin High School basketball coach Paul Furlong. Furlong now resides in a nursing home in New Jersey and had not seen his prize pupil in 47 years. Austin is the television analyst for the Cleveland Cavaliers and he was traveling with the team for a game with the New York Knicks. He had some down time and made the trip to New Jersey for a long overdue visit.
HOORAY FOR OHIO STATE:
QB CARDALE JONES MAKES DECISION TO STAY IN SCHOOL!
The first ever Super Bowl Championship of college football was won by underdog Ohio State 42-20. That is just a portion of the story, the game was won with a 3rd string QB by the name of Cardale Jones. He replaced a two time player of the year and a Heisman Trophy candidate. Talking about stepping up to the plate in that is an understatement. In three straight outings Ohio State routed Wisconsin for the Big Ten Conference Championship 59-0. He completed 12-of-17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Up next was Coach Lou Saban and the Alabama Crimson tide in the Sugar Bowl for the right to face No. 1 ranked Oregon Ducks. No problem, he completed 18 passes in 35 attempts for 243 yards, one touchdown, one interception and he ran for 43 yards for a 42-35 win. He saved the best for last, the Oregon Ducks. In the 42-20 win over Oregon the Buckeyes spotted the Ducks 4 lost fumbles and it was still no-contest. Cardale completed 16 of 23 passes for 242 yards, one touchdown, he ran for one touchdown and one interception. He is 22 years old stands 6'5 and weighs 250 pounds. He is an NFL dream project with an arm only an NFL coach could dream. But it looks and sounds like the NFL will have to wait. He made the decision there is more to life then football.
OHIO STATE WINS FIRST SUPER BOWL OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL OUTCLASS NO. 1 OREGON 42-20
WOODY HAYES, ARCHIE GRIFFIN, CORNELIUS GREEN, LENNY WILLIS, WOODROW ROACH THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!
OHIO STATE: THE WAY WE WERE 1976 IN WASHINGTON, DC
Photo No. 1 Coach Woody Hayes, Cornelius Green, Woodrow Roach, Archie Griffin, Lenny Willis and HB
Photo No. 2 Coach Hayes, HB, Lenny Willis and Jim Vance.
AFC NFL PLAY-OFFS
*NE PATRIOTS OUTCLASS COLTS 42-7
NFC NFL PLAY-OFFS
*SEATTLE MIRACLE OT COMEBACK SENT PACKERS HOME
SUPER BOWL / SEATTLE VS NE PATRIOTS
SONY'S RACIAL PROFILE ON DENZEL WASHINGTON WAS NOT RACIST: THE PRODUCER'S ASSESSMENT WAS WRONG BUT HE WAS ONLY PROTECTING HIS BOTTOM LINE!
An unknown producer send an e-mail to Sony CEO warning him not to star black actors like Denzel Washington in lead roles because their pictures are flops overseas. Denzel's latest movie "The Equalizer" gross 191 million dollars with almost half of it coming from overseas!
PAT MURPHY THE GODFATHER OF COMMUNITY POLICING IN AMERICA: PAT WHERE ARE YOU WHEN WE NEED YOU!
ACTOR SAM JACKSON PUTS HIS MONEY WHERE HIS MOUTH IS ON VIDEO "RACIST COPS IN AMERICA!"
"I CAN HEAR MY NEIGHBOR CRYING, I CAN'T BREATHE. CALLING OUT THE VIOLENCE OF THE RACIST POLICE. NOW I AM IN THE STRUGGLE I CAN'T LEAVE. WE AIN'T GONNA STOP UNTIL PEOPLE ARE FREE."
Earl Lloyd was the first black to play in the NBA .
My media association started with the NBA in 1971 I have seen the Good, Bad and Ugly and sometimes that are one of the same. My relationship with the NBA got off to a rocky start. In the late 70s my media mentor Sonny Hill invited me to attend the NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Tx. He then explained to me the proper procedure for requesting press credentials. I called the league office and got the mailing address to request credentials and filed a request. When Sonny and I arrived in Houston we checked into our hotel room. Our next stop would be the press media room to pick-up our credentials. There we would find the man in charge of the credential process, Mr. Brian McIntyre. He was sitting almost alone and there was no one waiting in line (compared to today's media circus). Sonny introduced me and picked up his credentials. But Mr. McIntyre could not find my request and refused to issue me credentials. I pleaded with him for understanding; as why would I fly all the way to Houston from DC and make up a story about credentials? He would not budge. I stood there for almost 30 minutes watching media types pick-up their credentials. It finally hit me I had an "Ace in the hole" NBA legend Red Auerbach. The next break at the press credential table I asked Mr. McIntyre if he knew Red Auerbach? His response, 'Yes do you?' I then asked for permission to use his phone, request granted. I remembered my last conversation with Red, he said he would not be coming out for the game. I knew Red and Dotie's number by heart and I called their residence. The voice answering the phone would be Dotie. I asked for Red and she told me he was out at Woodmont Country club Playing cards. I would guess she heard the urgency in my voice and asked me if everything was all right? I explained to her that I was in Houston for the NBA All-Star Game and I was having a problem getting press credentials. She asked to speak to Mr. McIntyre. The two spoke for a couple of minutes. He hung up the phone and said "No problem!" The Bad But It would be a problem in the Bullets/Wizards pressrooms. It was here I would encounter "The Media Relations Directors from Hell!" There were no minorities in charge of media relations during that era. I remember when me and a white sports writer by the name of Frank Pastor decided to integrate the Bullets press table in 1974. Frank and I were just returning back to our seats from a half-time break. We were waiting at the top of the arena for a break in the action. I looked down and notice that all the white media were seated on one side of half-court and all the blacks were seated on the other side of the half-court line. I mentioned my observation to Frank and without hesitation he said "I am going to sit in your seat and you sit in mine." We quietly integrated the media press table without a police escort or an angry word. But everyone was not overjoyed about the new pecking order. Mark Splaver was the man in charge of the Bullet press table and he was not a happy camper. The very next game I discovered how unhappy he was. I arrived at my seat a little late but I noticed that members of the media had been issued new media guildes, but there was none at my seat. I found Mark to tell him about the oversight and he just looked at me and walked away without a word. I returned to my seat. Jerry Sachs was the Bullet's President and he was a class act. He would usually be seated at floor level near the press table. We often shook hands and exchanged words as I walked by. This time he asked me was everything all right? My response "I am fine Mr. Sacs." In less then 10 minutes Mark came back to the press table and tossed the media guild on the table in front of me and walk away. This was unacceptable and I got up to follow him and evidently Mr. Sacs had watched the whole episode unfold. He stepped in front of me and said "I got it." It would be the start of the 4th quarter that Mark returned to the press table table and apologize for his unprofessional actions. I accepted his apology. In 1980 I was named "Washingtonian of the Year" Jerry was one of the first to mail me a personally hand written note congratulating me and Hymie called me and cussed me out and warned me not to get too big for my britches ---the congratulations carried different messages but one of the same, respect. The Good Bullet players Phil Chenier, Larry Wright, Carlos Terry, Greg Ballard, Coaches, KC Jones and Bernie Bickerstaff and front office types like GM Bob Ferry and Bob Zurflu all supported my community endeavors (Celebrity Tennis & Fashion Shows). The Bad press relations with blacks in media continued at the Verizon Center. There were other mistakes like someone thought a black Judy Holland was VP material---far from it. Her media relations project was player Rick McHorn. I spoke with Mr. McIntyre at the NBA All-Star Game in Philadelphia over 2 decades ago about minority problems in gaining access to NBA press tables as it related to the Bullets/Wizards. He suggested we meet for lunch and discuss the matter. It took a minute but in the meantime, he was making an effort to bring about change in his own way. But according veteran (32 years) sports writer Bill Rhoden of the New York Times, progress in sports media pressrooms around the country are on a slow boat to C hina. His recent appearance on the widely acclaimed television news show Meet the Press, he said, "the NBA, NFL and MLB are still dragging their feet. In my travels there are media press rooms I go in where I am still the only black face in 2014!" That is a sad commentary, but what I suspected all along. Media pressrooms at Deadline are still the last plantations. Pioneering broadcaster and former NBA CBS basketball analyst Sonny Hill and now a sports talk show host on WIP Radio in Philadelphia said, "I am not surprised by Rhoden's statement, very little has changed in media pressrooms. One of the problems there is no networking among blacks who have moved it up the ladder." That is an understatement. Rhoden was a regular on The Inside Sports Media Roundtable long before he appeared on ESPN's Sports Reporters and Meet the Press. In 1978 a writer in the Style section of the Washington Post conspired with several of his colleagues and took my show title "Inside Sports" to New York City. In 1979 he found and published Inside Sports Magazine. He is now the VP of ESPN television, his name is John Walsh. The copy rights for Inside Sports is own by News Week Magazine and it is own by the Washington Post. The beat goes on! I have been in the sports media for 45 years. I was still having problems gaining access, of all places at the Verizon Center. First, there was a a problem with the PR Men from hell, Brian Sereno and Matt Williams. It was brought to my attention that Sereno was disrespecting the ladies of The Roundball Report. He had called co-host Christy Winters-Scott a liar over something trivia. Andrew Dyer the Executive Producer of the show asked me if I would intervene and I did. He thought there was a double standard. The Roundball Report aired on PG Cable 76 (is strictly a basketball show). I e-mailed Sereno and asked for a meeting. The meeting was set before a Wizard's game in the press louge but Scott Hall was the lead man. Scott was a breath of fresh air. He listened and we disagreed on some points but when we walked away from the table we were on the same page. The next thing I knew Brian was gone and Matt Williams had replaced him. Williams had an ego that was as big as he was. He not only alienated members of the the media but people in his own department. He was soon gone without a trace. Christy Winters-Scott has since moved on and she is now a studio co-host for Comcast Sports another media plantation. It is very difficult to see and understand perceived slights (racism) if you have not walked in the other person's shoes. Enter, Scott Hall Scott's willingness to discuss what was thought to be a problem has since become a lesson of what can happen when folks can sit down and talk. I will bet his staff is one of the most diverse in the NBA (I could be wrong). The problem with racism people are scared and uncomfortable talking about it (to include blacks). The Good The Washington Bullets' home was the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland. Hymie Perlo was and still is irreplacable. His presense is still missed today. His heart was as big as the arena that he worked in. He was the best PR man in the NBA bar none. The community and everyone in it was a friend, the old and the young, the black and the white and the healthy and the lame. Hymie was a jewel of a man. I was honored to speak at his retirement held at the arena just before the Bullets moved to Washington and changed their name to the Wizards. Denny Gordon was in ticket sales and it seem like he knew everyone who brought a ticket. He loved his job and Bullet ticket holders loved him. I look around and the holdovers from Landover in 1978 are far, few and in between. There is Dolph, Arnie, and Paul still on staff. Phil Chenier is on the broadcast team and Kenny Burns is a Supervisor in security. The Ugly In 1975 Bullets coach KC Jones was fired by owner Abe Polin after losing in the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors in 4 straight games. He was made the scapegoat after being sold out by his assisstant coach Bernie Bickerstaff and others. Bickerstaff was rewarded when he landed a job with the new Bullet coach Dick Motta. KC was and is a class act. He is one of the nicest men in pro sports. 1977 I was a Nike rep when Nike NBA rep John Phillips invited me to meet him in the NBA Office in New York City. The meeting revolved around a charity all-star game scheduled for the Bahamas, the island home of NBA star Mycal Thompson. The game had been played the year before without incident or controversy. Magic Johnson was one of All-Stars participating. Representatives from the NBA included VP Ron Thorne, Legal Counsel Gary Bettman and head of security Horace Balmer. John and I were in for a shocking revelation. Bettman claimed the game could not go on as planned because the NBA own the players. We could not believe our ears. My response was, "Are you saying this is a plantation?" The room went silent, Thorne called the meeting off and said he would call us later, but he never did. Magic disappeared and changed his telephone number. Gary Bettman is the Commissioner of the NHL, Thorne is somewhere lurking in the NBA, Balmer has since retired and Magic is a role model for Black America? The short lived existence of basketball legend Michael Jordan as a Wizard's player and Executive in the front office. His dismissal from the team by owner Abe Polin was a sad day for many. In December 2009 Gilbert Arenas brought a handgun into the Wizards locker room. After the story broke he and several teammates made light of it during introductions of a game. He was eventually suspended for most of the 2009–10 season. The thing that I find disturbing about this Donald Sterling charade is that folks are acting like they were surprised by his rants against blacks. I also notice the same "Old faces and voices" are called on to respond to the racist acts by men like Sterling---when they are a part of the problem . Faces and voices that I am familiar with like Magic Johnson. He and Sterling were good friends because "Birds of a feather flock together." Check Magic's history out and you will discover the two have a lot in common. Magic's claim to be a minority owner of the LA Dodgers is another sham (token black face). I know for a fact he was anything but a victim. Rev. James Brown (CBS Sports) another mis-guilded brother claiming to be a minority baseball owner and an expert on racism. He did finally admit on the late George Michael Show (Sports Machine) "I have no say in making baseball decisions as a minority owner." His role as a minority owner is to be paraded out on Opening Day as the black face to read the starting line-ups. Come on man! ESPN's Michael Wilbon, was front and center as an expert on racism in America with ABC's Diane Sawyer. This is the same Michael Wilbon that I had at least two recent conversations about the use of the N word as a term of endearment. I have to give him credit, he will at least talk to me face to face and not behind my back. I tried to explain that his rationale that his grandfather's use the word as a term of endearment does not make it right today. I told him he should not go on national television saying it is okay to use the N word among friends and family. It gives bigots like Donald Sterling the Green Light to do the same among his friends and family. Plus, Michael told me he was not going to appear on the ESPN Show Outside the Lines because the white host had no horse in the race! Two weeks later I turn on the television and there he is front and center. I wish that Magic, James, Michael and the rest of the media experts would defer to black men like Hank Aaron, Dr. Harry Edwards and even Jim Brown and Bill Russell. Brown and Russell sometimes talk out of both sides of their mouths. But they wear the battle scars and have been on the front lines of the civil rights movement in real life and in the sports arenas of America. In other words, they have been there and done that. I guess that is wishful thinking, especially when everyone wants to be an expert on television. In the meantime, they don't know their asses from a hole in the ground but the beat goes on and on. In 1964, Red was the first coach to play the first-ever black NBA starting five. They were Bill Russell, Willie Naulls, Satch Sanders, Sam Jones, and K. C. Jones. Auerbach would go a step further in the 1966-67 NBA season, when he stepped down after winning nine titles in 11 years, and made Bill Russell player-coach. Russell would eventually be the first black to win an NBA championship. He would later be named the NBA's first black General Manager. It was Red Auerbach and Walter Brown who not only talked the talk but walked the walk. They led the way against all odds.
Fast-forward to April 2014, how was it that Donald Sterling's racist actions against minorities went undetected under the NBA radar for decades?
First, Sterling belongs to the exclusive 1% club of billionaires in America. He does not need to wear the traditional KKK robe to be a member in good standing. There are far too many crying "Foul" and playing the victims in this charade, to include some NBA owners.
Let me start with my homeboy, the great Elgin Baylor who was the Clippers GM for over 2 decades. His teams were perennial losers on the court and in attendance, but he picked up his check every two weeks and kept his mouth shut. Elgin lived by the premise "You don't bite the hand that feeds you."
Elgin finally cried "Foul" when Sterling fired him. He carried his former boss to court in 2010. He filed a wrongful termination and sued Sterling for racism.
In his deposition, Elgin spoke about what he called Sterling's 'plantation mentality,' alleging the owner in the late 1990s rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: 'Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching my poor black players.' He dropped the racism from the suit. The case was thrown out of court in 2011.
The other entity to cry foul and caught with their hands in "The cookie jar" was the local branch of the Los Angeles NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Talking about an organization needing a change of name and a face-lift---meet Leon Jenkins.
Jenkins seen above at a press conference trying to explain why the local branch was honoring Sterling during the 100th Anniversary of the organization next month. He explained the previous award had been approved by the man he replaced and he just went along to get along. But this time he was on the hot seat for approving the second award in May. Jenkin's excuse for not cutting ties with Sterling was lame at best. He said "We were reluctant to make decisions based on rumors!" We deal with the actual character of the person as we see it and as it is displayed." This is another example of the blind leading the blind all that Jenkins could see was "Show me the money." The taped revealed exactly how Sterling felt about black people, including his good friend Magic Johnson. He had his fingers in Magic's eyes and his foot in his butt at the same time. Sterling won't be the first to sleep black and think white when it comes to sex, politics and money. Slave owners lived by the credo and in modern day history there was the late Senator Strom Thurmond. The plantation mentality is just a board meeting away. I will always remember a meeting in the NBA League Office in 1978. Nike NBA rep John Phillips and I met with VP Rod Thorn, League Counsel Gary Bettman and Head of League Security, Horace Balmer. The meeting centered around whether Magic Johnson, Mycal Thompson and a group of NBA All-Stars would be allowed to travel to the Bahamas for a charity basketball game without league approval. The game had been played in the Bahamas the previous year without incident or controversy. It was obvious that there was a power-play being made by the league office to cancel the game. Thorn open the meeting by asking who was going to be responsible if one of the players was hurt during the game? John's response, "Each player has his own insurance policy." Bettman response, "You cannot assume that each player has insurance and you cannot go forward with this game without the league's permission." John and I had met with Magic and Mycal before the meeting and had given them a heads up. They both were still ready to participate. Magic suggested that the topic of conversation just might be centered around an injury to a player. He was right on point. To this day I think Magic had a previous discussion with the league office. I responded to Thorn's concern because it was legit. I tried to explain that playing the game was no different then one of the players participating in a pick-up game on a New York City playground in the off season. In fact they would be safer playing in the Bahamas among their peers. The risk of injury was minimum. Before Thorn could respond to me Bettman blurted out "You cannot do that we own them." John looked at me as if to say 'I cannot believe he just said that.' My response to Bettman, "What do you mean you own them. What is this some kind of plantation?" The room went silent and Horace Balmer the only other black in the room just shook his head and seem to be lost for words. The meeting went downhill from there. Thorn called off the discussion and promised to get back to us but he never did. In the meantime, Magic Johnson disappeared and changed his number. John Phillips met with Mycal Thompson and cancelled the game. Mycal was a class act but his hands were tied when Magic decided to do his Houdini act. Gary Bettman now runs the NHL, Ron Thorn is still in the NBA somewhere calling the shots, Horace Balmer has since retired and Magic is the face (black) in the middle of the Donald Sterling charade. The Race Card is front and center. When all is said and done, the real victim despite all of her baggage is the girlfriend (The Whistle Blower) V. Stiviano. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during his annoucement as it related to the punishment of Donald Sterling apologize to black NBA pioneers Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper and Magic Johnson. But forgot to thank V. Stiviano??? I am betting Magic Johnson and his NBA counter-parts throw her under the bus----stay tune.
It has been said “Don’t ever look back because someone might be gaining on you.” In the case of Black people in America there was never a need for White folks to look back.” We have yet to gain on them!
For example; in 1969 the income for White households doubled that of Black households. In 2011 when people measured the progress of blacks in America, the first thing they pointed to was a Black President in the White House.
The real measure of success in America has always been financial success. In 2011 the average White household still doubles that of a Black house hold (1969 and 2009 Census).
In February 2011 I coordinated and hosted a series of Black History Moments in Sports at the historical and World famous Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, DC. Much of the series was spend honoring unsung heroes in the Black Community.
In February 1926 the legendary and great writer/poet Carter G. Woodson gave us Black History Week and in 1976 Black History Week evolved into Black History Month. This disproves the myth of White folks giving us the shortest month of the year. The month of February and the annual tribute was a Black man’s idea!
The most popular tribute at Ben’s Chili Bowl was the one paid to Gary Mays who as a young child had his left arm blown off by an accidental blast from a shotgun, he was 5 years old.
Gary moved to Washington, DC from West Virginia at the age of twelve. His story of growing up on the tough streets and playgrounds of Washington, DC should be on a movie screen.
He had a double whammy growing up he was a black male child and had one arm. Gary grew up in NW DC in a neighborhood where it would have been a challenge for a two armed kid.
The bullies that he encountered would make today’s bullies look like choir boys. Thanks to a knockout punch in his powerful right arm and hand allowed him to take names and kicked ass.
The powerful punch was developed early thanks to his uncle Charles Aubrey who was a semi-pro baseball catcher in West Virginia. During backyard catch games Gary was on the receiving end of his uncle’s many fast balls thrown high and sometimes low and in the dirt. This daily drill helped to prepare him as young kid to be a one of a kind athlete.
When Gary left for D.C. to live with his mother, one of his Uncle Charles’ teammates gave him a parting gift, it was a baseball glove. The rest is baseball history and what legends are made of today.
Once he had arrived in DC he started playing organized baseball at the age of thirteen with young men years older on a team called the Georgetown Panthers.
Gary picked Armstrong Technical High school to take his athletic skills to the next level. He was already a playground legend and still his baseball coach Major Robinson was a skeptic. He didn’t think Gary could make his team. But it didn’t take him long to make a believer out of Coach Robinson.
He was not only a feared catch but was a power hitter his bat was just as feared as his throwing arm.
I first heard of Gary through my older brother the late Robert Alfred Bell better known as Bobby. My brother played second-base on the Armstrong team.
We grew up with my grandmother and Bobby would come home and tell stories about the feats of his one armed teammate. I thought he was making these stories up until I saw “The One Arm Bandit” with my own eyes.
I was a student at Brown Middle school in the early 50s when Gary and Elgin Baylor were the talk of the town.
Brown Middle School is located at 24th and Benning Road in NE DC. It sits on a hill like no other school system in America. There are three other schools located within a stone’s throw of each other. First there is Spingarn High School the home of NBA Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing, next is Charles Young Elementary, and directly behind it sits Phelps Vocational High School and at the end of the street there is Brown Middle School.
The basketball court that sits directly across from Brown is the site of some memorable playground basketball games that included the likes of Gary, Elgin, Bing, John Thompson, Willie Wood, Willie Jones, etc. Elgin and Dave are in the NBA Hall of Fame and Willie Wood is in the NFL Hall of Fame. The late Len Ford of Armstrong is the other student/athlete in the NFL Hall of Fame.
The DC Public School system is the only public school system in America that can lay claim of having four student/athletes in the NFL and NBA Hall of Fames.
Directly across the street from Spingarn is historical Langston Golf Course where I got to see Heavyweight Boxing Champion Joe Louis and legendary golfer Charlie Sifford up close and personal.
This unique school setting allowed me to watch my brother and Gary play at least twice a year.
This historical hill and school system are an endangered species. In the near future this hill will be the home of the rich and famous with million dollar homes and condoms replacing the schools.
The golf course will become a country club for the residents who will definitely not look like us. They will dock their boats on the Anacostia River and travel by streetcar on Benning Road to work and back home.
There is no way in hell the city is building street car tracks for Black and poor high school students to share with rich White folks! “The Educational Hill” will disappear right before our very eyes and become the Residential Hill.
Gary said, “This has been in the plans for decades.”
When he became a high school senior he was built like a linebacker at 5-foot-11, 185-pound with an arm and wrist so powerful he threw would be base stealers out with ease.
The Washington Star, Daily News and the Times Herald
ignored his great feats on the field of play. Despite the non-recognition he was still named as one of three finalists for the Paris Trophy, given to the city’s top prep baseball player. This was a statement in itself since the only thing preppy about Gary was he sometimes wore a sweater to school.
Gary won the sportsmanship award, but he didn’t win the city’s MVP award. He was not chosen for the MVP or selected to play at the whites-only, season-ending All-High, All-Prep Game at Griffith Stadium. Since he played in Division II athletics in the DC Public High Schools he was not eligible.
He was definitely worthy, according to the Washington Daily News, Gary batted .375, yielded zero stolen bases and didn’t make a single error. The paper noted that the recognition was earned and not based on “sympathy” it was his pure talent that got their attention.
In June 1954, The Washington Senators’ held their annual tryout camp, home to hundreds of hopeful young men and more than a dozen major league scouts. During those three days Gary was the best player in Griffith Stadium.
This is the same ballpark where he once wasn’t allowed to compete in a prep all-star game. In a camp-closing scrimmage, Gary threw out a base runner and hit the only home run, a 350-foot drive over the center-field fence. He was unanimously voted camp MVP.
He dominated a group of players that included future Washington Senator outfielder Chuck Hinton. Chuck went on to have a 11-year major league career. Gary did not receive a contract offer.
A Major League scout explained to the Daily News that Gary could never be an effective catcher because “he’s at a disadvantage on a ball thrown in the dirt.” This statement was just a smoke screen and use to cover up his racist and bias attitude for not offering Gary a contract.
Gary dismissed the racial overtones as, “That is the way it was and no one ever said Life was fair.”
It was Gary’s basketball coach Charlie Baltimore that gave him the tag “The One Arm Bandit.”
One day in practice Coach Baltimore got pissed off after Gary had stolen the ball for about the sixth time he screamed at no one in particular, “How in the hell do you guys keep letting that “One Arm Bandit steal the ball?” The name has been with him ever since.
In 1954 months before desegregation was outlawed in all public schools in America by the Supreme Court, Armstrong and Spingarn High School played each other for the Division II basketball title.
Gary and his teammates would face the greatest basketball player to ever touch a ball in the annals of DC basketball—Elgin “Rabbit” Baylor.
In one of the biggest games in Division II basketball history and against all odds Armstrong would meet undefeated Spingarn and “Basketball God”, Elgin Baylor for the title. The two teams had met twice during the regular season and Baylor had averaged close to 50 points in the two victories.
Armstrong Coach Charlie Baltimore knew he had no chance of beating Spingarn if he didn’t find a way to stop Elgin Baylor. Just before tip-off he called his Captain Gary Mays and teammates together.
He instructed everyone on the floor to play a zone defense with the exception of Gary. He was told to play Elgin Man to Man. Coach Baltimore said “I want you to stay with Elgin regardless of where he decides to go including the bathroom and once he gets there, you sit on the toilet paper!”
The final score Armstrong 50 Spingarn 47. Gary held Elgin to 18 points half of his regular season average on his home court, talking about against all odds!
The defense Coach Baltimore devised was called a Box In One the same exact defense my high school Coach the late Dr. William Roundtree had asked me to play my senior year at Spingarn. Until I heard Gary’s story on why he was able to hold Elgin to 18 points I was walking around thinking I was the first high school basketball player to play in a Box In One!
There were three other things that Gary and I had in common we were both raised by our grandmothers (early years) we worn the number 23 as high school athletes and we were both were piss poor students.
I was in the same boat with Pittsburg Steeler’s QB Terry Bradshaw you could spot me the C-A in cat and I still could not spell it.
The similarities end there he was easily the greatest all-around athlete in the city. He could swim like a fish, played pool and held his own with the sharks and hustlers.
Gary was due to graduate in June 1954 but he had to return to Armstrong to get credits for English and a piano class. He passed both courses and graduated in January 1955.
He wanted to take his athletic skills to the next level by attending college and had been asked by the legendary basketball coach Johnny McLendon to play for him at Tennessee State University in Nashville. The late Coach McLendon was a class act and he was one of the finest coaches to ever coach the game of basketball. He was an innovator and created “The 4 Corners.”
As bad luck would have it Elgin Baylor and Dunbar High School student/athlete Warren Williams came home on a college Christmas break and asked Gary to join them at the College of Idaho.
They made him an offer he could not refuse and Gary joined them for the 54 hour ride by train where Black faces were in short supply. They joined R. C. Owens who would later go on to be an All-Pro wide receiver for the NFL San Francisco 49ers.
During his tenure in the NFL he and NFL Hall of Fame QB John Brodie created “The Alley Oop” pass play. The pattern consisted of Owens running straight down the field and Brodie throwing the ball as far and high as he could get it. Owens would use his basketball skills to out jump the defender for the ball.
In the meantime at the college of Idaho, Elgin, Warren, Gary and R. C. were pioneers during the 50s. There was an unwritten rule that no school could play more than three blacks at time, but the College of Idaho was different.
He reminded me of the great NBA legendary coach, Red Auerbach, as the basketball coach, Sam Vokes walked to his own drum beat.
He wore two hats, he coached basketball and football. He needed players and he would not allow their color to be used to disqualify them.
The school was located in Caldwell, Idaho a small town located near the Oregon border.
The town of Caldwell took some getting use to when Gary decided to go to town he would stop the traffic and the people. They would stare at him. The looks he received were looks of surprise and not hate. They had never seen blacks before.
The locals were very friendly. Winning can do wonders and the town’s folks fell in love with the black players. The school’s basketball team was suddenly hot and could not be stopped.
Elgin averaged 31.3 points and 18.9 rebounds a game. R.C. Owens grabbed 37 rebounds in a single game. The team went undefeated in the Northwest Conference. Where once you could not give tickets away the school was now turning away fans.
Gary hardly ever got any playing time but he could have cared less! He was having so much fun. He and Elgin would put on “Globetrotter-like” dribbling exhibitions during halftime.
The town had really embraced the players and Gary says “I had the best seat in the house, on the bench.”
Gary played baseball for the Coyotes (the team’s nick name) and worked at a Caldwell sporting goods store. He befriended the white owner, Pat O’Connor, a well-known war hero. The two would go hunting and Gary would borrow a shotgun from a local dentist he had befriended.
O’Connor took Gary on sales trips along the Oregon border and he would speak to the school children.
He would entertain the children by tying and untying his shoes. The kids loved it but all good things must come to an end.
In a March 7, 1955, an article was published in Sports Illustrated that said, “The College of Idaho was winning games by admitting academically unqualified athletes.” A blind man could see where the fingers were being pointed.
The fingers were being pointed at Elgin, Warren, R. C. and Gary. They were identified as the “Usual Suspects.”
It was reported that Elgin earned all Bs during his first semester. I would guess if you checked Elgin’s high school transcript you would ask yourself how in the hell could this guy get all Bs?
Coach Vokes stood his ground for the Black athletes against the school administrators. He was fired following the basketball season.
Elgin left for the University of Seattle, which he later led them to the Final Four. Warren Williams transferred to Virginia Union University in nearby Richmond, Virginia and Gary went back to Idaho in the fall, but he didn’t like the new basketball coach. He quit school and returned to DC.
Once home he received a couple of letters from the owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, Abe Saperstein. He offered Gary a tryout but he decided he did not want to be a part of the Globetrotter’s side show.
He started his own construction company, drove a cab, ran a numbers book in what is now known as the DC, Maryland and Virginia lotteries and had one of largest black own liquor stores in DC.
Gary was always a self starter. It would be 50 years later before he returned to Caldwell, Idaho. The occasion, the Coyotes were inducting the 1954-55 basketball team into its basketball Hall of Fame.
R. C. Owens and Gary were the only Black players to return for the induction ceremony. The town folks remembered him and the weekend he spent there for the induction was a love fest.
Today Gary Mays is 75 years old and has a “Family Tree” that consists of Donna his wife of 20 years, a daughter who has her college degree in Communications and a 16 year old son who is a computer whiz.
He loves talking about his 9 year old cousin, Cameron an upcoming track and field superstar or his cousin, A’dia Mathies, who was Miss Kentucky Basketball in 2010.
The 2011 Black History Month tribute, recognition by ESPN Magazine and the City Paper was great and long overdue. The one thing that he enjoyed most was the discovery that he is the original “One Arm Bandit.”
The two men laying claim to that title are John S. Payne a rodeo rancher and Larry Alford II a golfer. There are pictures of them using prosthesis to aid them in their pursuit of excellence. Gary is the only one that uses the one arm to play in the Game Called Life. This Black History fact makes him “The Original One Arm Bandit.”