Jack Johnson the first black heavyweight champion of the world and Jackie Robinson the first black to play Major League Baseball
In August 2017 a group calling themselves the SURVEY MONKEY & THE UNDEFEATED of ESPN teamed up to select The 50 Greatest Black Athletes of All-Time, it was a gross injustice to the rich history of the Black Athlete. This was Monkey Business with a bunch of monkeys who didn’t have a clue. It was the blind leading the blind.
How can anyone pick the 50 greatest black athletes in one survey swoop? To be fair you would have to divide the survey into three 50 year segments starting with 1900–1950 for the first 50 years and 1950–2000 for the second 50 years. The athletes born between 2000–2050 will just have to wait their turn and see if they stand the test of time. Especially, if you are going to measure their greatness on Player Domination—Impact, and Community Service!
By that criterion alone there is no way you can pick Michael Jordan over Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown or Jackie Robinson. Jordan’s impact in the community was “Ground Zero.” I was not surprised that MLB owners may allow him and Derek Jeter to join their “Good Old Boys Club” as the first minority black owners. Neither will have the final word or control. According to sources Jordan is mostly lending his name, the sale is not yet final.
The barriers (racism) were completely different in the first 50 years and the same can be said for the second 50 years and the third 50 years. The problem, it is evident the Survey Monkey and the Undefeated of ESPN who teamed up to vote for this top 50 black athletes had no clue when it comes to the history of the Black Athlete. This was a sham—anytime you name two female gymnist who just turned 21 in the top 10 proves that you have no clue. The group should re-name themselves from the Monkey Survey & the Undefeated to “Monkey See, Monkey Do.”
The black slave was the first pro athlete, therefore, my top ten of the first 50 would have to be athletes who fall before or after the time constraints of 1900-2050.
My TOP TEN in the first 50 years would include four boxers with names like Joe Gans, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson, adding to the list would be Paul Roberson (Football), Isaac Murphy (horse racing), Jesse Owens (track & field), Athea Gibson (tennis), Jackie Robinson (baseball), and Josh Gibson (baseball) and not necessarily in that order.
Jackie Robinson and Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis are black athletes who made a difference on and off the field. The great track star Jesse Owens won 4 Gold Medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. He set three world records in front of Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler who claimed blacks were the inferior race.
My question, where are the checks & balances in sports media—who are the Gate Keepers for our history ? Is it Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, James Brown, David Aldridge, Kevin Blackistone, Bill Rhoden, Jarrett Bell, or Jason Whitlock? These are just a few of the names in sports media that I am familiar with. Whitlock for example has no clue; I was one of the early writers for the CBS owned Bleacher Report when Whitlock wrote a column claiming GT Coach John Thompson open the doors for black coaches and black sports media personalities, nothing could have been further from the truth. The only door Thompson open was the one he open for himself. I wrote a follow-up blog on The Bleacher Report titled “The real John Thompson” and the blog went viral and received over 55,000 hits in three days. The blog caused shock waves in sports media. Mike Wise who was then a columnist for the Washington Post invited me to come on The Fan his radio sports talk show heard on 106.7 in Washington, DC to discuss my blog on Thompson.
The Gate Keepers for Black Sports History?
Before I could sit down he and his Howdy Doody co-host ambushed me with a barrage of questions about, “When did I know and how did I know about The Real John Thompson?” I was not aware I was to wear a bullet proof vest to the show. Muhammad Al’s Rumble in the Jungle was pale in comparison to my interview. When the smoke and dust had cleared according to columnist Dave McKenna of the City Paper who had tried a similar tactic several years earlier wrote, “Harold Bell left the Mike Wise radio show heard on The Fan 106.7 with his legendary status still intact.”
Whitlock recently wrote an opt-ed column in The Wall Street Journal of all places titled “Kaepernick is not black enough!” Deadspin a blog website was quoted, ‘Its hard to find anything truly shocking nowadays in a world that seemingly no longer has any rules, but that an ostensibly proud and legitimate newspaper like the Wall Street Journal sees fit to regularly lend its credibility of legitimacy to the rambling thoughts of a blithering idiot like Jason Whitlock is, somehow, still mind-blowing.’ I also found it unbelievable, but you have to look no further than ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to understand that loud mouth idiots like them are in demand—loud and wrong most of the time.
Dave McKenna who I got to know later was really not a bad guy, but he was just a little confused. Back in the day I was like “The No. 1 gunfighter in DC sports talk radio and everyone was gunning for me.” Anyone who could knock me off of my high horse would be the toast of the town. Tony Korheisner of the Washington Post (ESPN) tried the same tactic. Korheisner should be glad he was not born black—he has no talent.
Sports media taking pot shots at me is nothing new, but very few if any put anything in writing or call me out on the air—the reason, I talk back in writting.
One local sports talk show host in a story written in the Washington Post in 1989 said, “Harold Bell thinks someone owes him something!” He was evidently encouraged to say something negative about me by the writer, Norman Chad whom I considered at the time an objective and fair critic/writer. Chad is known today as ‘The Slouch’ and serves as a color analyst on The World Series of Poker seen on ESPN television. What I did not understand why Chad would ask such a question knowing he was interviewing me for the same story? He never asked me about my colleague. I am sure he knew better, because at that time I would never say anything negative about another sports talk show host—what a difference a day makes. There were so few of us in sports talk media, but Chad convinced my colleague to go negative on me. The Washington Post column was titled “Blacks in Broadcasting.”
I responded to the comment on my sports talk show “Inside Sports” by calling Chad out for causing friction between me and the other talk show host. He shown his true colors and used the Willie Lynch school of thought, Divide and Conquer and it worked. I still have a copy of the “Dear John letter” Chad wrote me after I called him out. Another mentee whom I saw as a trusted friend wrote an excellent column on my trail blazing career in the community and sports media, but he wrote a paragraph stating I negatively blasted “Sacred Cows” like John Thompson of Georgetown? I could not believe my eyes, these were words coming from a young brother who I thought knew me and what I stood for in the community. His blog would be read by millions on the internet who had no clue to who Harold Bell was, but they would see John Thompson as the first black coach to win a Division One NCAA Basketball Championship. My response and rebuttal would be read by hundreds–maybe. John Thompson to this day, is still one of the biggest frauds in college basketball, but he is probably seen as a “Sacred Cow” and me as a “Player-Hater.”
I remember my first live interview on national television. Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon called me one day and ask if l would I sit in for him on “The Geraldo Rivera Show.” I jumped at the opportunity, he gave some flimsy excuse for not being able to be on the show, but did mention the subject would be boxing promoter Don King. Michael reminded me, “Harold no one in media has tooted Don King’s horn and his right to a second chance as a boxing promoter, despite his criminal past than you.” I told Wilbon, ‘the world of boxing is overrun with criminals.’
I almost fell asleep waiting for almost two hours in the TV 9 studios for the hook-up with Geraldo in New York City. When the connection was finally made I understood why Wilbon had taken a “Rain Check” to appear on the show. The panel against Don King included Geraldo, boxing historian Bert Sugar and Pulitzer Prize winner New York Times investigated reporter Jack Newfield, I woke up fast and in a hurry. Newfield was also the author of the Emmy Award winning HBO special “Only in America the life and crimes of Don King.” I found myself on ‘The Hot Seat’ it was three on one with some of New York City’s finest journalist. King would later see me in Las Vegas for a fight and he would yell from the ring, ‘Harold Bell my man you did good’, famous last words.
Don King is the greatest boxing promoter of all time, thanks to Muhammad Ali. Ali said to me, “He was one of my biggest mistakes.”
Recently, a sports columnist and namesake Jarrett Bell of U. S. A. Today newspaper whom I thought was also a friend, but in a recent telephone conversation he said, “Man I cannot deal with your Nixon connection!” I could not believe my ears, my President Richard Nixon connection?
In the late 50s I was an All-Star athlete at Spingarn high school. I was living in a NE housing project in a single parent home, my mother was on welfare, but she and my grandmother were my heroes. They did everything they could to hold the family together, but still I was going to hell in a hurry. My Grandmother and mother the real Super Stars in the Tyler/Bell family. Brothers, Earl and Bobby.
I tried to help my mother make ends meet by caddying on the weekends at Burning Tree Golf Course in 1957-58. It was here I met Richard Nixon and the experience inspired me. I didn’t see him again until 1969.
Shortly after taking office as the 37th President of the United States of America I saw him on a tour of the riot torn area on the 7th Street NW corridor of Cardozo/Shaw in DC. I was working with youth gangs and at-risk children for the DC Department of Recreation & Parks. I had walked those same streets with nothing but a DC police badge to protect me from the rioters in 1968. The badge was use to get me through the police and military barricades.
Shortly after his visit to the inner-city I wrote him a letter reminding him of our days at the Burning Tree Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland. He followed-up by inviting me and my wife Hattie to the White House for lunch.
The luncheon led to a Presidential appointment that inspired me to reach back and help thousands of inner-city children whose lives once resembled my very own. I thank him for not forgetting who I was and where I came from and giving me a platform and foundation to help others. President Nixon never asked me if I was a Republican or Democrat during those rounds of golf or at our meeting at the White House.
My visit to the White House open the door for me to become a pioneer in radio and television sports talk shows and my community reach back programs are now copied by the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. My brief telephone conversation with Bell made it sound like I was involved in the Watergate break-in—its blacks like him who are always complaining about what white folks are doing to us. He needs to look in the mirrow. The industry is overrun with “Spooks Who Sit by the Door.” Black folks like Jarrett Bell are the reason I still end my You Tube shows with, “Every Black face I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy.”
The only Gate Keepers of our history who have a national sports platform are Shannon Sharp, Skip Bayless, Herm Edwards, David Aldridge, and Ryan Clark, you can count on them for an honest evaluation. They are the only ones I will surf for with my remote.
If I missed any of their commentaries or columns of rebuttal or response to the sham of the selection of the 50 Greatest Black Athletes of All-Time or how black NFL players don’t have the balls to stand up and support the plantation mentality of the NFL, I would hope they will add a comment so that I can apologize for the oversight.
I am truly proud of my accomplishments in the community and my pioneering efforts in media that were inspired by Richard Nixon, Red Auerbach, Bert Sugar, Harry Barnett, Brian McIntyre, Angelo Dundee, James Dudley and Muhammad Ali. They were a rainbow of decent human beings who cared about their fellow man and believed in Harold Bell. 2017 marks 50 years since I brought the first pro athlete Dave Bing into the community to reach back and enhance the growth of inner-city kids. I wonder what is in Jason Whitlock and Jarrett Bell’s wallets?
He showed up in DC in 1969 shortly after the 1968 riots had almost devastated the town. Jim Vance was one the first of the new media personalities to join the team of Kids In Trouble my non-profit organization. After the riots major media discovered they needed to hire more blacks in their newsrooms to cover the inner-city. Many white reporters refused to go into the inner-city during the riots.
Max Robinson was the pioneer at WRC TV 4 before Jim arrived but he joined the staff at WTOP TV in 1969 and Jim followed him to the news 4 news desk.
Media pioneers Max Robinson and Jim Vance
I loved me some Max Robinson, but he was so moody you never knew which side of the bed he got up on that particular morning. Despite his mood changes he loved his people—there was never any doubt.
The Original Kids In Trouble Dream Team was made up of my DC homeboys, Petey Greene, Dave Bing, Willie Wood and me. We would later be joined by DC Superior Court Judges, Luke C. Moore, Harry T. Alexander and Bill Raspberry of the Washington Post (Pulitzer Prize winner). Washington Redskins, Roy Jefferson, Larry Brown, Harold McLinton and Ted Vactor would join the team in 1970 and community give back changed forever. The NFL, NBA and MLB would follow our lead.H. Bell and Bill Raspberry shoots hoops during half time of charity basketball game played at Georgetown UniversityL-R Back to Hollywood Farewell to actor Robert Hooks: Hooks, HBell, Jim, Carol Randolph, Derrick Humphries, Sonny Hill and Martin Wyatt in attendance.
Roland ‘Fatty’ Taylor, Larry Brown, Petey Greene and HBell participate in Kids In Trouble Community Festival
Jim and Petey had a lot in common, they both had my best interest at heart. Petey was a radio and television icon and we had been life-long friends. He and I were already locked into the community. Petey gave me my first shot to become a pioneering radio sports talk show host in 1970 and in November 1975 Jim made it possible for me to become the first black to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4. My special guest was Muhammad Ali. The show was titled “Spotlight on Sports” Jim convinced the brass at WRC that the show was worth airing.
Thank you Jim Vance for opening the door
Petey, Jim and me would become like the three musketeers when it came to reaching back to enhance the growth of inner-city children in DC.
Jim hailed from the city of Philadelphia known as the city of “Brotherly Love” and he brought the love with him. He and I became like brothers and no matter what the community endeavor, celebrity fashion shows, tennis tournaments, toy parties or support for the Roy Jefferson Reading Center—he was there.Jim and HBell are seen hanging out at The Roy Jefferson Reading Center on K Street, NW with several students.Robert Hooks, Eldridge Spearman, HBell, Jim and Derrick Humphries hanging out at the Chapter 4 club in SE DC
Jim, Hattie T and the late and former Redskin LB Pete Wysocki looking good at KIT Fashion Show at DC Hyatt Regency Hotel
When a confused Sugar Ray Leonard was still trying to find his way, it was Jim who joined me, Robert Hooks, Sonny Hill and Willie Wood at the Department of Recreation & Parks’ to meet with Director Bill Rumsey asking him to help find Ray a job until he could get his act together.
When Ray got his act together it was Jim who helped me to coordinate a bus trip to Baltimore to support him in his pro debut and the rest is boxing history. Ray Leonard would go on to become the first fighter in boxing history to earn 100 million dollars in prize money.
Jim Vance in background as Sugar Ray makes Kids In Trouble Community Service Award presentation at the Foxtrappe
Coach Woody Hayes, Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin and MC Jim Vance during KIT tribute and salute to Ohio State football
Jim loved to play tennis even though he was not that good we became partners on the tennis courts, when he found the time in his busy schedule. I was right handed, but I would play him with my left hand to make the game competitive. I think that was one of the reasons I never developed a backhand, I would switch to my left and hit a forehand when I should have been hitting a backhand. The games were fun and great exercise for both of us.Inside Sports Celebrity Tennis: Jim Vance and the Usual Suspects at Anacostia Park in SE DC
Radio icon and ‘Quiet Storm’ host Melvin Lindsey, HBell, Jim and Washington Post sports columnist Dave Dupree attend KIT toy party.
It was easy to like Jim he was a people person and everyone was treated like his friend. His special gift of loving children was understandable he was a school teacher in Philadelphia.
Inside Sports really took off when I started to write my own commentaries. In the early 70s I was not only playing message music relating to community ills, but I also was writing commentaries relating to those same community ills. Inside Sports was “Outta Compton” long before NWA.
Watching Jim on the evening and nightly news was very inspiring, especially when it came to his commentaries. I would go up to the station in the evenings and sit down and watch him prepare for his newscast. He would write his commentaries and then read them to me for sound effects. This was a special skill because his writing reminded me of a definition I learned while working for the Department of Defense at Bolling AFB in the 70s. I kept clashing with a Base Commander named Erickson, he hailed from Texas and acted like it when it came to communicating with minorities.
The Vice-Commander was really a class act pulled me aside one day and asked to meet in my office the following morning, I said okay.
The next day he came in and sit down and explained to me that I was too important to DOD and the community to keep going up against the Base Commander. He then pulled out this poster that had a picture of the Devil with a long spear in his hand and it read “The Definition of Diplomacy”, ‘Being able to tell someone to go to hell and have them looking forward to the trip’ that is how all of Jim Vance’s commentaries read and sounded. He taught me while writing a story it had to have a flow and continuity. That was the secret to him being an amazing writer and story teller.Maureen Bunyan, Lark McCarthy and Donnie Simpson all followed KIT and Jim Vance’s lead into the community
In 1983 our relationship went to hell in a handbasket because of his drug abuse. The drug community in DC is a very small community and if you are using drugs everyone in the streets know who you are. I tried to look the other way when it came to Jim, but one evening I could no longer look the other way.
One drug dealer brought a check to me that Jim had written for the drugs, it was then I realized how deep he was in. The drug dealer gave me a copy of the check and asked me to talk to Jim about getting some help. He explained that he could not tell him to stop using because this was his business and business was good. This brother was known on the streets as a selfish and cold dude, but he shown compassion for and confessed he really liked Jim Vance.
The next day I waited for Jim to make his exit from the station after the 11:00 pm news. We went to a nearby restaurant to have a sandwich and a cold beer. I didn’t want to spent a lot of time making small talk and immediately showed him the check his drug dealer had given me. He took the check and left the restaurant and didn’t speak to me again for 20 years.
When I told the drug dealer about Jim’s response, he was as surprised as I was that he would react that way to someone who was trying to save his life. In 1984 he enrolled in the Betty Ford Clinic. Jim and I were like passing ships in the night for the next two decades.
I will never forget in 2007 I rescued an autistic little girl off of the subway tracks at the Potomac Avenue station in NE DC. One afternoon I emerged from a train and saw her lying flat on her back looking up and not moving. My instincts told me to jump down on the tracks, but an Amtrak employee advised me against the tactic saying the third rail would electrocute me. Together we laid down flat on our stomachs and reached out to her asking her to give us her hand, but she just stared at us. Suddenly I looked down and notice the warning lights were blinking meaning a train was approaching the station. I broke out into a cold sweat and hollered at the top of my voice, “Give me your goddam hand”. She reached up and gave us her hand and we pulled her to safety seconds before the train pulled into the station–talking about a surreal moment.
The next evening NBC afilliate WRC-TV 4 covered the story and the anchors were Doreen Gentzler and Jim Vance. Doreen excitely read the story saying what a heroic act it was–Vance looked dis-interested making like he never heard of me. Hattie looked at me and I just laughed. He never participated in “Fake News”.
Doreen covers the Potomac Avenue Subway rescue on the evening news and Jim shows his love–looking like he never heard of me.
The next time he spoke to me was at a tribute to sports talk show host Glen Harris on the campus of Howard University. On his enry into the room I was standing talking to several of the guest and he walked by and said, “hey Harold Bell”, I was surprised and never responded.
The next time I saw him would be the re-opening of the renovated Howard Theater in 2012 he was covering the event. He spotted me and came over and said, “Lets do lunch, give me a call so that we can set something up”! Hattie and I stopped by the station one day while we were in the neighborhood. He came out of the studio to greet her with a hug and gave me a date for lunch and never followed up—I let it go.Harold and Hattie T hanging out with Mayor Marion Barry “DC Mayor for life” at the Pigskin Club in DC
Marion Barry and Jim Vance had a lot in common they were leaders in their chosen fields, politics and media, but the demons they hung out with they were never able to conquer. I tried to warn Marion that the Feds were trying to set him up, but he didn’t listen and his final cry was “The Bitch Set me Up”. Jim ignored my warning and quietly slipped away. RIP my friends you did it your way.
I remember my last conversation with Johnny Sample I was heading south to the memorial services for my coach and mentor CIAA basketball legend, Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines. He said, “Man I am going to try to make it” but I didn’t look for him. Johnny was notorious for not showing up. I have heard all the stories but I don’t ever remember him giving me his word and not keeping it.
He was always there for my celebrity tennis tournaments, media panel discussions, award programs, radio and television talk shows, etc. Compared to today’s pro athlete, he was a Saint and a MAN among boys in the game called life.
Johnny comes to mind because the American Tennis Association (ATA) is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in Baltimore on July 29th through August 5th 2017 and former NFL QB Doug Williams recenty said in the Washington Post “I Am Not a Yes Man”. Johnny Sample’s tennis contribution in the inner-city is second to none and he was nobody’s ‘Yes Man’!
The ATA will induct four tennis notables into its hall of fame to include Richard Williams the man behind and in front of two of the greatest professional tennis players ever, his two daughters Serena and Venus.
I will be in Baltimore to talk with some of the folks who remember the great Johnny Sample and his contributions to the Black American tennis community. The interviews will be seen and heard on my You Tube Channel “The Legends of Inside Sports”!
I remember Johnny Sample as a member on the Board of Directors for my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. for over 30 years. He was a frequent guest on my pioneering radio sports talk show “Inside Sports”.
Johnny and NBA Boston Celtic Legend Red Auerbach co-host the Inside Sports Celebrity Tennis Tournament in Washington, DC
NBA great the late Jim Bad News Barnes and Johnny take a break during a Inside Sports’ Celebrity tennis tournament in DC’s Anacostia Park.
I first saw Johnny Sample in Washington, DC in 1954. He was a member of the Maryland State football team and they were in town to play Howard University at the Cardozo High School football stadium.
I was amazed that he didn’t wear thigh and knee pads; his pants were skin tight. The shoulder pads were so small it didn’t look like he had any on. His level of play that day was like a MAN among boys.
It was here that I came away with the impression that Johnny Sample was indestructible. It would be years later before I would meet Johnny face to face. It was at a Baltimore Bullets’ (Wizards) basketball game at the Baltimore Civic Center.
He was a member of the Baltimore Colts football team. Johnny was standing around outside of the bar during halftime laughing and talking with anyone and everyone. I decided to go up and introduce myself, and we have been great friends ever since.
It was easy to like Johnny Sample; he had an outgoing personality and he made you feel like he had known you all of his life. There was nothing phony or pretentious about him. If you didn’t want to hear the truth, you didn’t want to be around Johnny Sample. He was a stand up brother and had your back if you were his friend.
Michael Cooper is one the greatest running backs to ever come out of the Philadelphia public school system. He was one of Johnny’s closest friends. He played at North East high school and Michigan State.
Michael remembers when he was invited to the Washington Redskin camp in 1964 for a try out by then Coach Bill McPeak.
It looked as though Michael was a sure bet to make the team until one day Coach McPeak decided it best he go on the Redskin taxi squad.
Johnny disagreed with the coach’s decision and let him know in no uncertain terms. He would run through a brick wall if you were his friend. Michael recalls his many acts of kindness for his friends. He says, “Johnny Sample was not a fly by night friend, if you needed him, he was there.”
When his friend and teammate the legendary Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb was mysteriously found dead in Baltimore, the NFL claimed he died of an overdose of drugs. Johnny knew for a fact ‘Big Daddy’ didn’t do drugs. He said, ‘Big Daddy was scared to death of needles.’
He sued the NFL for $100,000 to clear his friend’s name and won the battle. Johnny would lose the war NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle declared on him. He “Blackballed” Johnny from all NFL activities including his induction into their sacred Hall of Fame.
Coming out of Maryland State College, he was one the greatest running backs in the nation. In 1955, he was voted unanimously by The Pigskin Club of Washington, DC as its “Player of the Year” for the Central Inter-collegian Athletic Association (CIAA).
He was the first ever player from a Historical Black College selected to play in the College All-Star game in Chicago.
His NFL career would be controversial, but his athletic skills were never questioned. His mouth often got him into trouble, but his play on the field would often be his ticket out of the NFL doghouses.
During his 11-year NFL tenure he was one of the most feared defensive backs in pro football. Roy Jefferson a former teammate and All-Pro wide receiver says, “If you caught the football in his territory you were going to pay the price.”
Hall of Fame and All-Pro wide receiver Frank Gifford of the New York Giants was so fearful of him that he once saw Johnny on a New York street corner and ran to the other side against a red light to get away from him.
Johnny made “The Bump and Run” against NFL wide receivers a art form. He would hold some All-Pro receivers to no catches for an entire game.
The Baltimore Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins and the New York Jets were all NFL homes for Johnny Sample.
He was the co-captain with QB Joe Namath of the New York Jets when Namath boldly predicted that the Jets would upset the Baltimore Colts and win Super Bowl III. He is the only player in pro football history to win three different championship rings, for the Baltimore Colts, the New York Jets and a NFL/AFL World Championship ring for Super Bowl III. Super Bowl III will go down in history as one the biggest upsets in professional football history.
In 1969 Johnny walked away from the game that he loved. He was much more than a great athlete he was a student of the game. Johnny could disrupt the flow of a game by calling out the offensive play as the opposing team came out to line up.
The QB would immediately have to call a timeout and many would cuss Johnny out as they made their way to the sideline. There were many players and coaches who thought he would have been a great NFL coach, but he had burned too many NFL bridges.
Immediately after retirement he went to work on his first book, “Confessions of a Dirty Football Player.” This book outlined the mercenary world of professional football. In an interview on my television sports talk show roundtable “Legends of Inside Sports” host Jim Brown asked the question, ‘Johnny were you a dirty football player or just a plain hard clean player?’
His response, “I was never dirty, except when I played against you.” The NFL Roundtable panel including, Roy Jefferson, Willie Wood, Sonny Hill and JB Brown all broke out laughing with Jim. (see roundtable interview) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzY5Mki8OVE
L-R: The Kids In Trouble All-Stars: legends, Roy Jefferson, Willie Wood, Sonny Hill and Johnny Sample
Johnny was not one to just sit around after his NFL career. He became an entrepreneur and owned a ticket agency and sporting goods store called, Sample’s End Zone. He later taught himself the game of tennis and quickly excelled.
He was the No. 1 player in the country in the United States Tennis Association (USTA), 45 and over category for several years running. He would later serve as a tennis official for Wimbledon, the U. S. Open, the French and Australian Opens as a pioneering chair umpire, linesman and referee.
His inner-city youth tennis program was one of the largest and best run in the country. Tennis to him was all about, love, love and more love.
In February of 2004, he was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in Raleigh, NC. This was almost 50 years after he had graduated from college. The first question he asked when he took the microphone, “CIAA what took you so long?”
Johnny and I had often talked about being “Blackballed” by the system is one thing, but to be “Blackballed” by your own people is a tough pill to swallow.
Johnny Sample’s induction into the Hall of Fame could not have come at a better time. In this case better late than never. This was definitely a highlight in his long distinguishing odyssey into the world of politics and sports.
During his induction speech he asked me to stand up and be recognized as the pioneer in sports talk radio. He was always reaching out and giving something back. Johnny also excelled as a sports talk show host on W-H-A-T Radio in Philadelphia from 1988 to 2004. Johnny used his sports talk show much liked I use Inside Sports as a vehicle to improve the growth of his community.
I was the one who encouraged him to get his own radio sports talk show in Philadelphia. The show was a big hit, he called it like he saw it—no cheerleaders allowed. Johnny Sample found “The Johnny Sample Tennis Foundation” for under-privilege kids in the Philadelphia inner-city shortly after his remarkable and controversial NFL career. He was a pioneer as an official line judge and chair umpire on the pro tennis tour (U. S. Open, Wimbledon, French and Australian tournaments).
He was one of the top players in the USTA for almost a decade and its number one ranked player in the 45 and over for several years running. He should not only be in the NFL Hall of Fame but any hall of fame that honors blacks in tennis. His life story after the NFL is a remarkable journey that definitely belongs in our history books. He follows only Arthur Ashe and Richard Williams when it comes to tennis contributors and icons in the black community.
As a community advocate, he was instrumental in several projects.
His crown jewel was the Million Man March in 1986. He organized seventy-three buses from Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey to Washington, DC.
There was a recent statement on Face Book referring to QB Colin Kapernick and upcoming umenployment in the NFL, the question was “What are we going to do about it”? My response, there is nothing that we could do about, it is all in the hands of his former teammates and peers in the NFL.
This means he will be left out in the cold for another NFL season because the Johnny Samples, Jim Browns, and Roy Jeffersons no longer exist in the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball. Today’s players only stand and kneel for a paycheck.
Jim Brown and Roy Jefferson prove “No One is Too Tall to Stoop to Help a Child”
Johnny went where there was no path and left a trail for others to follow. I am honored to have walked in his shadow in a journey of love for his community.
I was pleased to see my name in the program as an Honorary Pallbearer for my brother in the struggle.
When I hear the word “Friend” I immediately think of Muhammad Ali’s definition of friend. In my 1974 interview with the champ I asked him how did he distinguish his friends, he said, “A friend is someone who is always doing something for others and never expecting anything in return”—meet Johnny Sample.
Note Worthy: First, a recent “FAKE NEWS” story was written in the Washington Post by a fake writer by the name of Andy Polin. He wrote a story wanting you to believe John Thompson, Jr. was responsible for sports talk thriving in Washington, DC. The real deal, John Thompson got his first talk show experience on Inside Sports promoting Georgetown basketball in 1972 when he could not win game. ESPN the sister station to the Washington Post is airing another “FAKE NEWS” special on “How Mike and Mad Dog Made Sports Radio History!” These two guys didn’t hit the airwaves until 1989 almost two decades after Inside Sports changed the way we talk sports in America. During the 19 year history of the Mike and Mad Dog show WFAN never hired a black sports talk show host and if they did he never made an apperance the entire 60 minutes the ESPN special aired—WOW!
INSIDE SPORTS BLAZING TALK SHOW PATH (WASHINGTON POST 1975 & 1989)“BLACKS IN BROADCASTING”. RED AUERBACH CO-HOSTING INSIDE SPORTS. MIKE & MADDOG ESPN FAKE NEWS HISTORY?
P. S. Congratulations to DC sports talk show host Glen Harris voted into the DC Sports Hall of Fame and DC’s own Maury Wills has been nominated for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame after sitting on the sidelines for 50 years. He revolutionize the game with the stolen base as a LA Dodger.
The frontrunner for all ALL-SPORTS TALK RADIO shows in DC is HAROLD BELL & INSIDE SPORTS. The ALL-SPORTS TALK SHOW FORMAT in DC is a ill-fated and a watered down copy of INSIDE SPORTS!!!!!
I took sports talk radio to a brand NEW level and ALL SPORTS TALK RADIO in DC followed my TRAIL. I went where there was no TRAIL and I left a PATH for others to follow and ALL-SPORTS TALK RADIO followed!
My question, what did they do different–did I miss something in Andy Polin’s story in the Washington Post in May 2017?
WHUR Radio sports talk show host and jazz historian the late Ron Sutton, we are seen at the integrated NBA Bullets press table in the early 70s, despite breaking down this barrier little has changed for blacks in sports media.
In fact, it was on the John Thompson “The Sacred Cow” sports talk radio show with his co-host Doc Walker when NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd said, “Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.” The silence that followed his statement was deafening, you could have heard a mouse piss on cotton.
I am still trying to figure out where were “The All-Sports Talk Shows” format when Big John became the coach of Georgetown in 1974 and could not win a game? He needed a sports talk show to promo his team to help save his job and guess where he landed—Inside Sports and Harold Bell?
Since I pioneered the sports talk show format in 1970 with The Original Inside Sports on W-O-O-K Radio, men of a certain hue and some brothers and sisters (National Association of Black Journalist) have all tried to diminish my influence and contributions to sports talk media throughout America and the World.
One local mega church Minister John Jenkins paid the loud month clown of ESPN Stephen A. Smith to come in and speak to his congregation!
Minister Louis Farakhan called the NABJ a bunch of “Uncle Toms” as a guest speaker at their convention in 2007 that should give you some idea who these folks really are.
First, the Washington Post kidnapped my title “INSIDE SPORTS” in a joint effort with a Style Section reporter by the name of John Walsh.
He would travel to New York City with the blessings and financial support of owners Kathy Graham, son Donald and sports editor George Solomon to publish “Inside Sports Magazine” in 1978. The magazine bombed out and two years later it folded. Walsh was never able to copy my successful radio talk show format and transfer that success into print.
He was eventually picked up by ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut and retired as a VP several years ago. ESPN would become an “Out Post” for the Washington Post sports department. It became known as “Washington Post North.”
Long time Washington Post columnist Colby King even used his influence to get his son a job there as an Editor for ESPN Magazine. ESPN and HBO were the first to copy the Inside Sports format, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Sports Reporters and HBO’s Real Sports were all dressed up with makeup and brand new shiny shoes, but the Inside Sports’ smell gave Bob Levy and Bryant Gumble away.
The COPYRIGHTS to Inside Sports now belong to NEWSWEEK and guess who owns NEWSWEEK—how about the WASHINGTON POST?
The sports media ass-kissing personalities who have tried to drag my name through the mud include, Tony Korheiser, John Feinstein, Leonard Sharpiro, Norman Chad, Mike Wise, the common denominator, all Washington Post sports’ reporters and a wanna-be reporter, Dave McKenna. Unlike most most of their targets, they could not find a trail of lies, jail, drug and alcohol abuse.
Sharpiro became pissed off at me when he tried to promo his new book “The Real John Thompson” on Inside Sports and my review was not to his liking. My on air question to him was “How was this going to be an accurate portrayal of John Thompson and you never interviewed him, his family or friends?” He left the studio pretending to take a bathroom break during a commerial and never came back. I heard he only sold 10 copies of the book to family and friends.
And then there was, Earl Guskey (LA Times), Dave Kindred (Atlanta Journal) and the late Bryant Burwell (Washington Star) to name just a few who dared to Player-Hate on me without doing their homework! All of these guys including Burwell should be glad they were not born black (no talent). Burwell was trying to close a book deal with Sugar Ray Leonard when he use me as his sacrificial lamb and wrote a negative and a not true column on my relationship with Ray.
The brothers who once worked in the Washington Post Sports department were all decent human beings to include Dave Dupree, Donald Huff, Dave Aldridge and Michael Wilbon. Wilbon lost his way when he allowed a ZERO like Feinstein to call him “The biggest ass kisser in sports media” and he never responded! One of Michael’s problems, he is a follower and his word means absolutely nothing. Its called “The Korhisner Effect” birds of a feather flock together.
Feinstein became a Player-Hater and was pissed off with Wilbon because he became an “ass-kisser and cheerleader” for some of the biggest names in pro sports, John Thompson, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Charles Barkley (Sacred Cows) and Feinstein didn’t have the same access.
The only thing Korheisner ever wrote in the Washington Post about me was during a Riddick Bowe vs Elijah Tillery a heavyweight brawl at the DC Convention Center in October 1991. Bowe was awarded a 1st round tko after the fight turned into a kicking match between the two fighters.
Bowe’s entourage joined in the brawl and I was suckered punch by a Convention Center employee and all hell broke loose. The next day Korheisner wrote in his column “The best fight took place in press row between sports talk host Harold Bell and a spectator.” No harm no foul and I ignored his jab at me.
The difference between me and Wilbon and other brothers in the media, I don’t allow any of these cowards in sports media to talk negatively about me without a response. My contributions in the community and sports media—are one of a kind, there are no comparisons.
Every four or five years the media will get someone like a wanna-be such as Andy Polin to take a shot at my contributions and even though they don’t write my name and their columns, I am good at reading between the lines. For example; Korheiser and Junior (Feinstein) where visiting a sick friend on his death bed, this same friend once represented me in a settlement case against a major bottling company (radio sponsor).
I discovered he was trying to make his own deal with the bottling company and tried to convince me to settle for less than half of what was owed to me and I said, “Hell No”. Evidently, he told these two idiots about the settlement and while he was lying there on his death bed they were talking about the one thing the three of them had in common, “They hated Harold Bell.” The story appeared on the sports pages of the Washington Post.
I have not forgotten the late sports talk show host Ken Beatrice on WMAL Radio. Ken was one of the nicest guys you ever wanted to know, but he exaggerated his knowledge of sports on his radio show.
Ken came to DC in 1977 and joined WMAL as host of Sports Call, the station’s nightly sports show. I had been on the air for eight years, by the time he had arrived in town and according to the Washington Post, Washington Star and Washingtonian Magazine, Inside Sports was the best talk show in the DMV.
Andy Ockenhouser WMAL’s GM was the greatest “Spin Doctor” in radio. He wanted to make Ken the greatest talk show host in the city. Ken became one of the city’s most popular talk show host thanks to his PR man, Ockenhouser. The Washington Post jumped on the band wagon, but jumped off just as fast as they had jumped on. The paper assigned its “Hit Man” Tony Kornheiser to investigate Ken and his credentials.
Ken is standing on the back row in sun glasses supporting my Kids In Trouble Celebrity Tennis Tournament in Anacostia Park in SE DC, kneeling in sun glasses is Washington Post Mafia type Godfather, sports editor George Solomon.
The pressure was so great on Ken he confessed that he did not play football at Boston College, that his doctorate degree was from a diploma mill in Ohio and that his scouting system only involved people who scouted as a hobby. On February 20, 1981 he made the addmission to the Washington Star newspaper.
Ken knew that Kornheiser was about to drop a story in the Washington Post on him admitting he had no role in the Boston Patriots drafting the great QB Fran Tarkenton as he had previously said on his talk show. When the story broke Ken took a leave of absence, but returned five weeks later. On August 16, 1991 he suffered a heart attack, which required him to undergo triple bypass surgery. The beat down by the Washington Post and the stress of trying to survive the Player-Haters in the sports media here in DC was a little too much for him. He died in 2015 at the age of 72.
I never saw Ken as a threat to me and my show, Inside Sports and Sports Call were two completely different entities. He was able to easily to gain popularity and raise monies for his non-profit charitable community programs, despite having no background of ever doing anything in any community. He had plenty of company with a host of black journalist (NABJ) who have no record of doing anything in the community before becoming experts on the black community. Despite our differences Ken and I still became friends.
Michael Wilbon is one of those black NABJ journalist whose only experience in the black community is he was born black. We share a laugh at Ben’s Chili Bowl during a salute to the black athlete for Black History Month. He sees John Thompson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Tiger Woods as “Sacred Cows”! DC sports legend Gary Mays sits neaby.
I tried to warn my buddy Wilbon who had a similar experience as Ken. He had to be rushed from his home in Arizona after suffering a heart attack in 2008. My advice to Wilbon, back up off of the cheerleading and ass kissing. I am not sure he heard me. He has reverted back to his oldself and lying ways.
There is a difference between me and Wilbon and his colleague and friend Stephen A. Smith (in-house ESPN clown), the Greatest, Ali, Red Auerbach and Jim Brown never required me to jump through hoops or kiss their rings and asses for an interview.
There have been several “Witch Hunts” aimed at me by several writers, one writer went all the way back into the radio archives in the 1930s trying to find something negative in my history. The writer, Dave McKenna’s only discovery was that there was a radio station that once use “Inside Sports.” His problem, he could not verify that my wife Hattie had gone into that same radio archives and found the tag “Inside Sports.”
My beef with McKenna is when he wrote a disparaging column on me in the City Paper during a Black History Month celebration on behalf of NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd, he forgot how Korhisner and Solomon “White Balled” him out at the Washington Post.
There is a difference between White Ball and Black Ball, McKeena was run out of the newspaper business by white folks. Black Balled is when you are tripled team by the NABJ, The Museum of African American History and Culture and the likes of the Washington Post. Houdini would have had a problem beating those odds.
Google Oscar Award winning Actress Mo’Nique as she explains the difference between being blackballed and whiteballed on stage at the Apollo theater in New York City on May 6, 2017, this video is x-rated.
McKenna was able to return to the Washington Post and the no talent Korhisner is still on national television with his “Boy” Michael Wilbon and I am still on the “Outside” looking in! I will probably be dead and gone, but maybe one day when McKenna is retired from the newspaper business, he will write a book on the media and the Fake News and its Play-Haters that existed during his tenure as a writer.
The proof is in the pudding, try to get one them to go on the RECORD using their names as it relates to HAROLD BELL—ANONIMITY will be requested.
History stolen and suppressed! I am the Archie Bunker (All in the Family) of sports talk radio. I have been copied, but never duplicated!
DC native CBS/NFL studio host of “Inside The NFL” James Brown forgot the Player-Hating experiences he had at WTEM and WUSA TV 9 earlier in his career. He tried to surpress our relationship by telling friends and family that the legendary radio and television icon Petey Greene was his mentor. I had to remind him that was not true. JB like Magic Johnson was living in a fantasy world while being showcased around Major League Baseball as ‘Minority Owners’ nothing could have been further from the truth. JB was living out this fantasy at cocktail parties and receptions for the rich and famous. In the meantime, his role as a minority owner was limited to reading the starting line-ups on ‘Opening Day’!
I reminded JB he made no baseball decisions (trades, drafting players or hiring coaches and front office personnel) for the Washington Nationals and neither did Magic Johnson for the LA Dodgers. I stayed in his ear until he finally confessed on the late George Michael television sports talk show on WRC TV 4. In response to a question from George relating to the Nationals, he said, “I make no baseball decisions for the team.”
There are guys like JB, Wilbon, Barkley, Magic, and Stephen A. Smith who think money and status is going to protect their children from racism are in for a rude awakening. Their cry to their colleagues should be the same cry we all see while riding public transportation, “If you see something say something!” Why should our children have to face the same racism that our parents and we have faced? No risk no reward!
Top: My mentor Petey Greene and James Brown / Bottom: Sam Jones (NBA), James Brown (CBS), HBell and Earl Lloyd (NBA)
“Harold Bell has always been a voice for people who didn’t have a voice. He has always called them as he saw it. He has been an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other black broadcasters.” James Brown (CBS)
Remember, Harold Bell and Inside Sports, COMMON SENSE–STREET SENSE–BOOK SENSE–SPORTS SENSE–UNDEFEATED!
Andy Polin, is just another wanna-be, his only claim to fame, he was a relative of NBA Washington Bullet/Wizard owner Abe Polin. If you don’t know you need to ask someone, the conclusion, all sports talk show formats in America are a copy of THE ORIGINAL INSIDE SPORTS and not even a good copy.
I would like to remind Andy, a LIE will change a thousand times the TRUTH never changes. I clearly understand, if you don’t speak up for yourself in this “Fake News Media” environment no one else will. The univited elephant in the room is still racism and they are still trying to sweep it under the rug.
The bottom-line, when you have to use John Thompson (Sacred Cow) as your “Poster Boy” for sports talk media you have definitely reached the bottom of the barrel!
In case you missed it, check out The Bleacher Report (CBS own) for my story on “The Real John Thompson” before they delete it—I am still waiting for someone to call me a liar! The blog/story received over 50,000 hits before they shut it down (its latest count is a little over 5,000 hits another lie).
It was this blog that got the attention of 106.7 the fan sports talk show host and former Washington Post columnist Mike Wise (ESPN Undefeated). He invited me to come on the show to discuss my blog on John Thompson. Mike and I had a back and forth email relationship/conversations about some of his colums both good and bad.
I had no idea that I was headed into a “Double team” with his Howdy Doody co-host Chris Johnson who I had never seen or heard of!
As an athlete who wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line, I was familiar with the “Double Team” by the opposing team, but the only game Mike’s co-host had played was making sure Big John had a clean towel draped over his shoulder during Georgetown’s games. Dave McKenna then a columnist for The City Paper wrote a lionizing pargraph in my favor saying something to the effect, “Harold Bell left the Mike Wise talk show with his legendary status intact”!
Mike Wise would later email me saying, “Harold in my opinion you belong in the sports hall of fame, but you have probably pissed off all the judges.”
I have no problem pissing people off, especially, when they are standing up on the roof pissing down on me—claiming its only rain!
References: Bleacher Report, Washington Post, LA Times, Atlanta Journal, Washington Star, NY Amsterdam News, Washington Afro
My question, “What is in your wallet?”
The Boston Red Sox was the last major league team to add a black player. Elijah Pumpsie Green joined the Red Sox roster in 1959. On May 1, 2017 fifty-eight years later the Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Adam Jones was called the N word and had a bag of peanuts thrown at him in Boston. The more things change the more they remain the same.
The Twilight Zone was a television series in the 60s and was the brainchild of actor Rod Sterling. The show was a strange mix of horror, comedy, science fiction, drama, and superstition. Many black athletes describe the city of Boston the same way.
This should not come as a surprise to any of us who were honored in sports media to follow the modern day pioneering efforts of Jackie Robinson (MLB), Joe Louis (Boxing), and Jim Brown (NFL).
Time Magazine recently published a article titled “Why Boston Sports Teams Can’t Escape the City’s Racism”.
Nothing could be further from the truth the NBA Boston Celtics did escape racism in Boston Garden. Thanks to Celtic owner Walter Brown and coach Red Auerbach.
Mr. Brown and Red were the Top Cops when it came to racial harmony and Equal Opportunity Employers in the NBA.
They were the first to draft a black player, Chuck Cooper, the first to play five black players at the same time, the first to hire a black coach and the first to hire a black General Manager. The coach and the General Manager had the same last name, Russell as in Bill.
Basketball historians like, Philadelphia legend Sonny Hill and New Amsterdam Newspaper sports Editor Howie Evans didn’t have a clue. They claim Chuck Cooper was the first black to play in the NBA, until they heard my Inside Sports interview with Red Auerbach. Red revealed Earl Lloyd was the first to play because of a glitch in the schedule that allowed him to play one day earlier than Chuck.
There are plenty of black athletes who can testify to the sometimes smothering racism of the city of Boston. Bill Russell won 11 NBA championships as a player, coach and General Manager.
He wrote in his 1979 memoir, “Second Wind”, ‘the city was a flea market of racism, it had all varieties, old and new, and in their most virulent form. City hall was corrupt, with hall-crony racists, brick-throwing, send-them back to Africa racists, and in the university areas phony radical-chi racist.’
One of the stories he tells about his encounter with racism he left out of the book. That one story he tells was like something out of “The Godfather One” series.
Shortly after signing with the Celtics he brought a home in the suburbs only to return home one night to pull back the sheets and discovered someone had done a No. 1 in his bed. Remember the movie producer who refuse to hire The Godfather’s godson for a starring role in his upcoming movie? He woke up one morning to find one of his prize stallion horse’s head in the bed with him. Russell got the message and moved!
In Boston Garden it was a different story, when the red neck racist attended NBA games at the Boston Garden, it was mandatory that they check their Klu Klux Klan hoods and robes at the door. Those were orders from the Top Cops, Walter Brown and Red Auerbach. Boston Garden, security had strict orders to ID trouble makers and show them the front door immediately.
The Brawl that broke out at the Wizards and Celtics play-off game in DC had nothing to do with racism, but everything to do with a young immature Wizards player Kelly Oubre acting like a spoiled child.
I remember in the 80s when Larry Bird was having his way winning three MVP awards and playing the game on the same level with “The Big Three”, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas, black folks were outraged that he was compared with this trio. They expressed their outrage by calling the Celtics a racist team and Larry Bird overrated.
To add fuel to the fire in 1987 Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons acted much like Oubre. Thomas was quoted saying after losing a hotly contested final Eastern Conference game 7, “If Larry Bird was a black player, he would be just average”. This was a racist statement. He was made to apologize and eat his own words.
The telephone calls to Inside Sports regarding the racist Boston Celtics and its overrated player Larry Bird were off the hook and chain. Those same callers changed their tune when I read them the Equal Opportunity History of the Boston Celtics.
Washington Post Sports Editor George Solomon and writers like Dave Dupree, Byron Rosen, Mike Wilbon, Tom Callahan and David Aldridge were regular contributors on Inside Sports in the 70s and 80s, 90s.
Solomon was listening to the Saturday show I was trying to explain to my listeners they had the city mixed-up with the team. The following Monday he called to ask me to write a column explaining the difference between racism in the city and a team that was really color blind. The column got great reviews and it took my writing career to the next level.
Washington National’s manager Dusty Baker kept it real about Adam Jones, he said, “It doesn’t really surprise me too much because I’ve been called that word in almost every city I have played in, minor leagues, big leagues, the letters of hate. So it don’t really shock me too much, from L. A. to New York, in some places more than others.”
New York Yankee left-hander CC Sabathia told reporters, “I have never been called the ‘N’ word anywhere but in Boston.”
A day before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Lebron James was to play in the 2017 NBA finals against the Golden State Warriors his LA home was sprayed painted with the N word across his front gate. Everyone acted surprised, hate crimes have doubled in America. It is funny how everyone crys wolf once we are confronted, too many think it does not concern us until it appears on our front doorstep. Pro sports are the leading coponent of racism in America.
A friend and her husband were recently invited to a Washington Nationals’ baseball game. The invitation was extended by the company her husband works for. Their seats were located in “The Diamond Suite” of the stadium. She described the experience as if they had just passed through ‘The TwiLight Zone’. There was great food and drinks all free and you never had to leave your seat to get your food. There was also big screen TV, you never had to look at the action on the field of play.
The suite was the “Playground” of Washington’s elite. It was definitely a Different World, one that many black Washingtonians will never see or experience. They have been locked out and it is by design.
In the meantime, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was heard talking out of both sides of his mouth when he commented on the Adam Jones incident, he said, “The behavior of these few ignorant individuals does not reflect the millions of great baseball fans who attend our games.”
Manfield is the overseer of a league that has priced people of color out his stadiums nationwide as it relates to the price of tickets, food and parking.
The average family of four cannot afford to attend a major league baseball game, it would really cost them an arm and leg.
He was quoted saying during the ground breaking ceremony for the Jackie Robinson Museum, “With the signing of Jackie Robinson by Branch Rickey it took our sport beyond the playing field. There are a lot of American heroes, but Jackie Robinson is in a class by himself!”
Red Auerbach, in an interview on Inside Sports, I asked him about what Black athletes did he admire most. He said, “There are so many, but I have always had a great deal of admiration for Jackie Robinson. We all know what Jackie has done as a pioneer, but he was such a great athlete.”
I mention to Red during the interview that I had heard that Jackie’s best sport was not baseball. His response, “No football was his best sport and he was a good basketball player to, we have had a lot of arguments when it comes to the best all around athlete of all time and it always comes back to Jackie Robinson and Jim Brown. They are the ones who have done it and not the potential”!
What makes the Adam Jones’ incident so ironic is that the Boston Red Sox have more African-American (4) players on its roster than any other major league team. The San Diego Padres home of one of the greatest hitter in the history of the game, the great late Tony Gwynn has zero African-Americans on its roster.
Baseball is called the American past time, but it has the lowest amount (8%) of African-Americans participating in the game since 1986 (18%) and there is no black ownership. It makes you wonder why it is called America’s favorite pasttime?
Baseball’s giant among men the great Jackie Robinson broke down the color barriers of major league baseball in 1947 or so we thought. He turned the other cheek when it was not a part of his DNA and the stress of that ordeal cost him his life at the young age of 53 in 1972.
It didn’t help when his own people turned against him when he joined the Republican Party. Jackie understood long before the masses the Democrats were running a game on blacks called, “Now you see and now you don’t”! These are the same blacks that also turned against Rev. Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali. The common denominator, Jackie, Martin, and Ali were all strong willed independent black men who marched to their own drummer.
In April 2017 Rachel and Sharon Robinson the wife and daughter of Jackie broke ground for the Museum that will bear his name in New York City. Rachel will be 95 years old in July and Sharon said, “This will be her birthday present”.
My question, why has it taken the Jackie Robinson Foundation and his family over 4 decades to raise what I see as “Chump Change” for major league baseball to get this project off the ground?
For the ground breaking ceremony alone they had to hustle up a grant for 6.5 million dollars donated by the Strada Education Network to clear the way for construction. The grant was the largest ever received by the Jackie Robinson Foundation since the founding by Rachel Robinson in 1973.
The museum is scheduled to open for public consumption in 2019. The problem, the Jackie Robinson Foundation will need another 18 million dollars to keep the doors open to the public. Why has a filthy rich Major Baseball League not stepped up to the plate with more than a measly one-million dollar donation?
The unvieling of a stature of Jackie Robinson in front of Dodger Stadium and the annual celebration of the retirement of his number 42 every April does not let Major League Baseball and Manfred off the hook.
SharonRobinson said, “Our father was known around our house as more than a baseball player, he was known as a “Activist” and a risk taker! Sounds a lot like the Red Auerbach I knew.
This is another example of ‘Talk is cheap’! Baseball Commissioner Manfred needs to put baseball’s money where his mouth is and give Rachel Robinson the financial breathing room for the Jackie Robinson Museum it deserves.
The more things change the more they stay the same!
In February 2016 during Black History Month I encountered former Washington Post sports columnist the two Mikes, Mike Wilbon (ESPN) and Mike Wise (Undefeated). They were in the NBA Wizards’ media press room making small talk when I arrived on the scene. Wise brought to my attention that he had just seen a screening of the documentary titled “The First to Play” based on the NBA pioneering efforts of Earl Lloyd. The screening was in New York City. He complimented me on my role in the film.
The sad part, the producer of the documentary is a scam artist by the name of Arka Sengupta. In 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia the hometown of Earl Lloyd I participated in the documentary along with his former friends and teammates. Arka has since left the participants completely in the dark and has written several bad checks to researcher Ms. Cha Bah.
NBA scam artist Arka Sengupta
Ms. Bah had spent hundreds of hours traveling in the District, Maryland and Virginia retrieving information from libraries and museums to help make the Earl Lloyd documentary a success. Arka shown his appreciation by bouncing checks written to Ms. Bah while receiving thousands of investment dollars from NBA players such as; former San Antonio player Michael Finley, and active players Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. NY Knicks’ star Camelo Anthony also wrote a big check, but still he cannot pay Ms. Bah? Leonard was sold a bill of goods to become co-executive producer. Arka has put brothers with names like Kawhi Leonard, Coodie and Chike on the marquee while he hides behind the scenes calling the shots.
San Antonio players Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, former player Michael Finley and New York Knickerbocker’s star Camelo Anthony
The scam started during the regular season 2016 and has spilled over into the 2017 NBA Play-offs. Stories in the Undefeated (ESPN) and Slam Magazine never mention Arka Sengupta as the producer of the documentary. Why is he hiding? Arka is the invisible man who hides behind the scene while one of the NBA’s most respected players Kawhi Leonard is made the front man for the scam.
We forget so easy, I notice during Earl Lloyd’s 2003 NBA Hall of Fame induction, NBA legend and icon Red Auerbach was never mentioned in his acceptance speech. It took fifty-three years (1950-2003) before Lloyd was finally inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame as a “Contributor”. It never would have happen without Red, the late Washington Time sports columnist Dick Heller and yours truly who reminded the historians on the selection committee they had forgotten Earl Lloyd.
Now “The Fake News Sports Media”, sees no fraud, speaks no fraud, and writes no fraud—is this the new wave of sports reporting? Is this how we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color line?
In 1947 Jackie was 1% of the entire league. Today baseball celebrates that milestone with only 8% of African-American participation the lowest in decades (1986). The country’s favorite past time is headed back to 1% and without black ownership. In April 2017 Rachel and Sharon Robinson, the wife and daughter of Jackie recently celebrated the ground breaking ceremony of the new museum named after him in NY City. In the meantime, the Boston Red Sox team with the most African-American players (4) showed their true colors in a recent game against the Baltimore Orioles in Boston. Several fans called Oriole outfielder Adam Jones the N word and then threw a bag of peanuts at him. Adam Jones should feel lucky Dodger fans threw a black cat at Jackie!
While the Boston Red Sox have the most African-American players (4) I find it difficult to believe that the home of one of baseball’s greatest hitters, the late Tony Gwynn, the San Diego Padres have no African-Americans on its roster! African-Americans are so low on the totem pole, black players like David Ortiz, Derek Jeter and the flow of Hispanic players claim to be anything but black (aka Tiger Woods). They really think this is a color blind society (several days ago a white cop in Texas shot into a car of black teen-agers driving away from the scene of a party killing a 15 year old honor student). The beat goes on!
In the meantime, Rachel Robinson will celebrate her 95th birthday in July, the thought of the opening of the museum in July 2019 will be a great birthday present for her after waiting decades to make this a reality.
A grant of 6.5 million was needed from the Strada Education Network to put the project over the top. The grant gave the foundation a total of 25 million dollars for renovation on the first floor. Sharon and Rachel must now find a way to raise another 18 million to operate the museum when it opens in 2019.
How can this be while a filthy rich Major League Baseball (32 teams) stands on the sidelines and its only contribution in memory of this great player and pioneer is a stature of him in front of Dodger Stadium, a measly one-million dollar donation and the annual retirement celebration of his number 42 being worn by players every April in stadiums around the country?
Is this just a camouflage for the ongoing racism in America’s favorite past time? It has been 70 years since we first thought that Jackie Robinson had broken baseball’s color line, still in 2017 the “Good Old Boys” are still living in the dark ages without a minority owner. The NBA has one minority owner, The NFL has none.
Michael Powell sports writer for the NY Times described the 2017 NFL draft as a “Meat Market”, where the players were treated no different than the slaves on plantations in the 1600s.
Earl Lloyd was often heard saying, “I was no Jackie Robinson” he got that right, but who was or is? The more things change the more they remain the same.
The Round Ball Report family
The Round Ball Report all things basketball is seen on local cable television CTV 76 in Prince Georges County, Maryland. For over two decades the program has been The Farm Team for producing sports media personalities and a training ground for behind the scenes technicians in radio and television nationally.
The Executive Producers are the dynamic husband and wife team of Andrew and Darlene Dyer.
Christy would learn her sports broadcasting lessons from her mentor Andrew Dyer who brought her on the Round Ball Report and made her the co-host of the show. The best cross-over move in local sports talk television.
Her resume has been unchallenged in a industry dominated by ego tripping males. She was an All-American high school basketball player at South Lakes in Reston, Virginia. Christy led South Lakes to an undefeated season her senior year (29-0) and to a state title.
She averaged 23 points a game and 14 rebounds and 6 block shots. Christy closed out her high school career scoring 1,785 points, 1,075 rebounds and 492 block shots. She now resides in the South Lakes High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Christy’s star continued to shine and rise at the University of Maryland it was here she scored 1,679 points (second most in school history) grabbed 723 rebounds ( 4th in school history), and played in 123 games ( No. 1 in school history). In 1989 she help Maryland win their 8th ACC title and led the team to their 3rd Final 4 appearance. She was named First Team All-ACC and Kodak All-East Region while leading the team in scoring with 533 points.
WNBA had not arrived on the pro basketball scene so she took her ball and headed overseas for parts unknown. First stop, Pistoria, Italy and then on to Fribourg, Switzerland where she spent two years, she averaged an eye-popping 37 points a game and 12 rebounds, with a career high 48 points.
She returned home and put her priorities in order, family, coaching and broadcasting.
Her first coaching jobs would be at George Mason (assistant), Maryland (assistant), and Georgetown (assistant). She returned to her alma mater South Lakes in 2005. The school was on life support (0-21). She would become a breath of fresh air and add new life to the program.
In 2009 Christy was named the Liberty District Coach of the Year and there was no stopping her now. In 2013 South Lakes qualified for state tournament with a 24-6 record for the first time since Christy took them there in 1986.
She was named the “Women in Sports Coach of the Year” which recognized the top female coach in any sport in Fairfax County. In 2014 South Lakes won the District Championship, their first in 27 years.
The Round Ball Report experience would lay the foundation for her career in sports broadcasting.
There would be many bumps in the road as it related to the press media table access. The early Verizon Center PR Media staff treated The Round Ball Report and minority media like “Second Class” media outlets. It brought back memories of the old home of the Bullets at Capitol Center in the 70s. The press table was split down the middle at half-court, white media on the left and black media on the right. I know this is history some would rather forget.
When we were colored: WHUR Radio’s the late Ron Sutton and I share a laugh at Bullet’s press table in the 70s.
Enter, Brian McIntyre (NBA Media VP) and Scott Hall (Wizards PR) these two men have open doors for women and minority media as it related to an air of fairness at Verizon Center (I can only speak for Verizon Center). Scott checked his ego at the door and was willing to listen to our grevancies.
Christy had never been to an NBA All-Star Game and had been denied credentials for the game in LA in 1994. She ask me to help her get there.
Mr. McIntyre and Scott picked up the ball from that point on and Christy and a crew from the Round Ball Report were credential and were able to attend their first All-Star game.
I suspected that Phil was on the way out when I heard him, Christy and Steve Buckhantz broadcasting a Wizard’s game together last month. I told my wife Hattie, “Phil Chenier is a Dead Man Walking!”
Phil supported my non-profit Kids In Trouble/Inside Sports endeavors, celebrity tennis tournaments and Christmas Toy Parties, etc.
1982 Inside Sports Celebrity Tennis Tournament: Back row L-R: Adrian Dantley, Carlos Terry, Adrian Branch, Earl Monroe, Phil Chenier, Betsy Stockard, Hattie T, Renee Pousaint, Timmy Newsome, Donnie Simpson, William Outlaw, Bad News Barnes, Craig Brewer, Bernie Bickerstaff, Freddy Scott, Kevin Warren. Kneeling: Thurston McLain, HBell, Calvin Woodland and little Phil Chenier, Jr.
He was a great jump shooting guard for the 1978-79 Washington Bullets champioship team, but his career as a color analyst was mediocre at best. He was definitely bless to have lasted 33 years in a cut-throat business (hats off to Ted Leonis). His jersey number definitely should be retired after 41 years with the organization.
Owner Abe Polin and his favorite player Wes Unseld share a championship moment immediately after the game (1978-79).
The man who marched to his own drummer Elvin Hayes reflects on the year with me and Nike rep John Phillips at a Nike reception for the champions at the downtown Hilton Hotel in NW DC.
Elvin later visits Nike store in Georgetown
Christy is the logical choice to replace Phil, she has paid her dues and deserves the job hands down. I could be wrong and if I am, we have not progressed as much as I thought.