Xavier, Part 1: Fats Jenkins, two-sport star

Harlem Rens, Fats Jenkins far left

I’m posting this piece much later — a month and a half, roughly — than I wanted to, and it’s turned into a multi-headed behemoth of information that I’ve been struggling to pull together in my mind and on the page, err, screen.

This past March 28 was the 80th anniversary of one of the most important events in both black history and American sporting history. In 1939, the legendary New York Renaissance African-American basketball team — known as the Harlem Rens or just the Rens — won the very first professional World Basketball Championship when they beat the Oshkosh All-Stars, a white team from Wisconsin, in the championship game of the inaugural pro hoops tournament, held in Chicago.

Opined Atlanta Daily World columnist Lucius Jones in that paper’s March 30, 1939, issue:

“Any doubt that the New York Renaissance basketball team is the real world professional cage champion certainly must now be dissipated to the four winds.”

In the April 8, 1939, edition of the Pittsburgh Courier, sports columnist Chester Washington Jr. stated thusly:

“You just can’t take it away from them. The Rens still reign supreme as the greatest pro basketball team in the country. … Skipper Bob Douglass’ [sic] classy outfit was pitted against the best pro teams in the country and they came through with flying colors. …

“The Rens had to be good to win out over such tough, youthful opposition. … As long as the Douglass-managed outfit continues to turn out a happy combination of experience and brains plus youth and pep into teams which hit perfectly ‘on all five,’ they’ll continue to be worthy of the designation: ‘The World’s Greatest Basketball Team.’”

The Rens — who, unlike their clowning rivals, the “Harlem” Globetrotters, where actually from Harlem (the ’Trotters were based in Chicago) — were the first fully professional all-black basketball team in history, and by winning the world tournament, they showed the world what many in the black community (not to mention the team’s white rivals, like the great Original Celtics and the Philadelphia Sphas) already knew — they were one of the best hoops teams ever assembled by that point.

I think the following quote from an April 8, 1939, article in the Chicago Defender perfectly nails down how the Renaissance played and how they dominated team after team in the 1930s:

“The Rens went about their task methodically and with [the] same precision which characterizes their play. When they needed it, they produced a scoring punch. When they guarded they did so to such an extent that the Wisconsin white team [Oshkosh] was forced to shoot from a distance and the shooting was erratic. The Rens’ defense was superb. What a team!”

The late Arthur Ashe — tennis star, social activist, author and one of the most influential, honorable and accomplished figures in sports history — wrote in “A Hard Road to Glory,” his seminal, three-volume chronicle of African-American athletics that Bob Douglas realized the limitations of the early game (gambling, lousy refereeing, ball-hogging) “and insisted his players perform more like a team, with strict adherence to discipline and the good of the team over that of the individual.”

The Rens were inducted as a team into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1963, as is their founder/owner/visionary Bob Douglas. In addition, five individual Rens players — Tarzan Cooper, Pop Gates, Nat Clifton, Zack Clayton and John Isaacs — are enshrined as well.

The Rens dominated African-American basketball for roughly two decades and routinely got the better of not only their best black counterparts, but also the top white teams of the day.

I first learned about the Rens when I was at Indiana University, where one of my mentors, Dr. William Wiggins, introduced me to the trailblazing “big five.” When I was in grad school, I wrote a paper about the Rens for my Literature of the Harlem Renaissance class (which was taught by another role model for me, John McCluskey).

Doc Wiggins filled me in about the Renaissance and what they meant to basketball history.

“The Rens were the original setters of the standard,” he told me. He added:

Doc said the club wasn’t just the standard for the future of basketball — they were the standard for black kids and the whole black community. He told me:

“There was some civic pride [and] racial pride in the Rens. … For me, as a youngster in a segregated era, they definitely were idols for what they symbolized.”

For my paper (written around 2003, roughly), I actually interviewed guard John Isaacs, who at the time was the last living Ren but had yet to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as an individual. I spoke with Mr. Isaacs, who was a lifelong resident of New York — where he mentored and coached local kids at the Boys and Girls Club until the day he died — on the phone and came away with one of the coolest experiences of my life.

Here are bunch of sweet quotes from our conversation, because sprinkled a lot of them in:

It wasn’t about you, it was about T-E-A-M. You’re only as good as the people you played with.

We traveled in all sorts of weather — rain, snow, sleet. You had a contract, and you honor that contract.

We played in places with six potbelly stoves, three on each side. Sometimes you played right up against those stoves.

You hurried up fast, took a shower, rubbed down with alcohol, got out with your coat with the collar up, and got back on the bus to take the trip back. We didn’t waste any time.

A lot of times I made sure I had some pineapple juice, some Ritz crackers and salami, some fruit. That would tide you over over until you got back to a hotel or the YMCA or wherever you were living.

Any time you go in, you should know you’re going to win.

John Isaacs

Johnny Isaacs played on that revolutionary Rens team of 1939 that won the world title, directing the squad’s precision offense, fluid defense and dazzlingly smooth and efficient overall game.

While I’ve always loved reading and writing about the New York Renaissance in general, their history and legacy directly intersected both my Negro Leagues research and my passion for New Orleans black sports history at the same time just recently.

First, the Negro Leagues angle … the captain and point guard on that Rens team was none other than Clarence “Fats” Jenkins, a versatile, multi-sport standout who starred in the Negro Baseball Leagues as well.

Starting his professional hardball career in 1920, Jenkins, a lefty, starred as an outfielder in the Negro Leagues for roughly 20 years. He gained superstardom in the 1920s with the Harrisburg Giants, where the speedster batted leadoff and formed the “Million Dollar Outfield” with National Baseball Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston and Rap Dixon, who many believe also deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Jenkins’ was supremely adept at swiping bases and getting on base, making him an ideal leadoff batter who gave Charleston, Dixon and the Giants’ other sluggers plentiful opportunities for RBIs.

My buddy, perennial Malloy conference roommate and Harrisburgite (Harrisburgian? Harrisburger?) Ted Knorr has long lobbied for more, well deserved recognition for the Jenkins-Charleston-Dixon outfield as one of the greatest outer garden trios in the annals of the American pastime, and he’s done the leg work and number crunchin’ to back it up.

Oscar Charleston, of course, is already in the Hall of Fame, and Ted (and I and many others folks) believe Rap belongs in there, too. Fats might not have been good enough to merit consideration for Cooperstown, but he filled in the third slot more than admirably. Here’s some of what Ted wrote me last week regarding the triumvirate:

“On the outfield … seven [segregation-era black] players are in the Hall as an outfielder … with five more on the ballot [in the 2006 group induction] — Jenkins, Dixon, [Spottswood] Poles, [Alejandro] Oms and [Red] Parnell — easily interpreted as the dozen best outfielders of the Negro Leagues, at least according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“The 1924-1927 Harrisburg Giant outfield of Jenkins, Charleston, Dixon is, again in the opinion of the NBHOF, the greatest outfield in the Negro Leagues as it is the only one with three of the dozen [HOF nominees] in starting roles for an appreciable length of time …

“In my opinion, certainly under segregation, this outfield is the best in any league or era, besting Meusel-Combs-Ruth [1920s New York Yankees] or Veach-Cobb-Crawford [1915 Detroit Tigers] or Lewis-Speaker-Hooper [1910s Boston Red Sox]; or the earlier Delahanty-Hamilton-Thompson [1890s Philadelphia Phillies] It is much more difficult argument to say the outfield has not been topped in the 72 seasons under Integration but I believe it. …”

Fats Jenkins and Oscar Charleston

It was during this period (when he’s on the Harrisburg Giants) when Jenkins hitched on with the Rens, filling the role that today would be called point guard. For the next 15 years, Jenkins then excelled on Negro Leagues diamonds in the summers and on the Rens’ homecourt at the grand Renaissance Ballroom and Casino in the Big Apple.

The biggest chunks of his black baseball career were spent with the New York Black Yankees, but he also played for the Lincoln Giants, Pittsburgh Crawfords, the Brooklyn Eagles and several other baseball teams. He retired from professional sports in the early to mid-1940s, carrying on with some semipro clubs here and there.

Amsterdam News, June 18, 1938

For the purpose of this blog post — and because his entirety career and life were so long, rich, influential and hard-to-summarize — let’s narrow our discussion of Jenkins to 1938-39 — the seasons in which he helped lead the Rens to the big hardwood title.

In March 1938, Jenkins was slated to suit up for the Black Yankees, but the team dangled him as trade bait, which might have generated some dissension on Fats’ part — that same month press reports surfaced stating that there was a chance he’d jump to the Washington Black Senators.

An article in the Baltimore Afro-American further stated that Black Yanks’ owner James Semler groused about the costs associated with running a Negro Leagues club; Semler stated that by the end of each baseball season, club owners “take an awful beating” financially, adding that “we are in the red plenty.”

Fats Jenkins

Jenkins seems to have stayed with the Yankees for some of the season, holding down left field and sometimes batting leadoff. However, his age was apparently starting to take effect on his speed — for many games he was bumped down to third in the order, and while a few box scores from that summer showed Fats with multiple-hit games, for just as many contests he was limited to just one or even no hits.

Pittsburgh Courier, March 5, 1938

Moreover, by late summer Jenkins got fed up with the struggling Yanks and what he viewed as Semler’s penny-pinching, reportedly taking up shop with the Black Senators in August ’38. Later in August, the Afro-American reported that Jenkins had now joined the Crawfords, “having ditched the Black Yankees because of salary differences.”

But even with his age-dimmed skills and roster-hopping, Jenkins still drew raves from both inside black baseball and outside the Negro game. In September 1938, a wire service reported that a group of white ex-major leaguers “chose a roster of Negro all-stars, each of whom they considered good enough to hold down a post on any major league outfit.” The article reported that former Pittsburgh Pirate Eppie Barnes placed Jenkins on this Negro League dream team. Stated Barnes:

“His smooth playing resembles Joe DiMaggio’s. His big league ability is obvious to those who have seen him in action.”

Then, a month later, Homestead Grays owner and Pittsburgh Courier columnist Cum Posey — himself the only figure to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — tabbed Jenkins to Posey’s annual All-American baseball team, naming him the starting left fielder on the year-end best-of roster.

Then came the winter 1938-39 basketball season that culminated with the Rens’ landmark pro hoops title in March ’39, with Jenkins pacing the hardwood juggernaut, at least tactically and emotionally.

By the late ’30s, Fats’ floor time with the Renaissance was being winnowed down, undoubtedly at least partially because of his age, a fact born out, for example, by the Rens’ 1938 and ’39 visits to New Orleans to play Xavier University. The Gold Rush boasted one of the most powerful, feared and respected athletic programs in the HBCU world, with the hoops team being better than many pro teams. (More on XULA to come.)

When the hardwood teams clashed in January 1938, Jenkins didn’t play at all in the Rens’ blowout win, and when the two teams battled in 1938, Fats also doesn’t appear in the post-game box score. Compare that to January 1935 contest between the Renaissance and the Gold Rush, when Jenkins scored nine points in another big win for the pro cagers.

Harrisburg Telegraph, March 31, 1936

As the inaugural World Basketball Championship approached in March 1939, most observers knew that Fats was close to his last hurrah with the Rens. In a March 25, 1939, column in the Pittsburgh Courier, Cum Posey asserted that Douglas, the Renaissance owner, needed to infuse some young blood in order to win the title:

“Now, Bob, one more good little fast man to set up plays and a big man like Strong who moves on the offense and defense will give you lots of protection because after all Fats can’t go on forever and your two big men don’t go up and down the court as fast as a few years ago. You have the pick of the country and can get any player you want. Don’t wait too long.”

Then came the tournament in Chicago, and Fats didn’t go full-time as the Rens advance in the brackets. Although he scored three points in the club’s semifinal win over the Globetrotters, Jenkins didn’t play at all during the championship showdown against Oshkosh; the team relied on Johnny Isaacs to direct the attack.

(However, although Fats didn’t play in every game in the tourney, he did receive an equal share — $1,000 — of the team’s winning purse.)

Afro-American, Nov. 4, 1939

At that point, Jenkins decided he just couldn’t keep pace with his Rens teammates anymore, and at the age of 41, he stepped off the team’s roster for good and stepped into the history books as a legend.

When the aging but accomplished Jenkins retired from the Rens, the Cleveland Call & Post, in its Nov. 9, 1939, bid a fond adieu to the hardwood version of Fats by pointing out his charisma, likeability, wisdom and his vibrant, playful personality:

“For many years, ‘Fats’ has played forward position for the Rens, and gained the reputation of being the fastest player on the court. ‘Fats’ also acted as captain of the squad, and his steadiness and sense of fair play have always endeared him to the fans. …

“Just how old ‘Fats’ is, is a matter of conjecture. Some say that he is well over forty, but ‘Fats’ has been as finicky about revealing the true date of his birth, as an old maid.

“‘Fats’’ popularity with the fans and his team was due also to the fact that he encouraged the younger ball players. When he learned that his legs could no longer keep up their dazzling pace, Jenkins took time out to train younger players to fill his shoes, which is one reason why the Rens have managed through the years to remain ‘tops.’

“Not only was ‘Fats’ an outstanding figure on the basketball court, but as outfielder for the New York Black Yankees. His ability as a hitter and his running of the bases, made him one of the team’s stars.”

My journalistic hero, Sam Lacy of the Baltimore Afro-American, had a brilliant way with words that both cut to the heart of the (sometimes ugly) matter but also described what he saw in the sports world with wit, clarity and insight, and when Fats Jenkins retired from the Rens in late 1939, Sam has on his game when he described Fats’:

“The name Renaissance is synonymous with basketball. And in circles where basketball is studied and talked reference to Fats Jenkins is almost inevitable.

“The kind of guy who defied all the accepted rules of athletic custom, save proper living, Fats played for 20 years in topflight ball. He was arrogant but likeable, ornery but a gentleman, chunky but fast, little but rugged.

“He could run away from an opponent in a surprise move and leave him as if he were tied to a spectator’s seat, then turn around and laugh at him. But in the next minute he’d be patting the same opponent on the arm or in the ribs as if to say, ‘Don’t let it worry you, you’ll probably do the same thing to me next time.’”

Lacy infused his commentary with a personal anecdote about Fats. In one hoops game, Lacy served as a referee, despite his inexperience and lack of confidence as a basketball official. Jenkins rode the anxious, overwhelmed new ref for the entire game, never failing to hassle, harangue or otherwise verbally rattle Lacy any way he could. As the game progressed, Fats lambasted Sam, constantly grinned in Lacy’s face, called the scribe a faker and a gypsy and even followed behind Lacy when the ref moved around the court, “mimicking my every move.”

But when the final buzzer sounded, Lacy recalls, the wily basketball captain caught the angst-ridden neophyte official completely off-guard. Sam wrote in relating the tale:

“Finally the timer’s signal put an end to my ordeal. And what do you think happened? Fats rushed over to me and said, ‘Hey, Sam, you did a damned good job, keep up the good work.’ I was dumbfounded.

“That was Fats, shrewd from the top of his alert head to the bottom of his nimble feet. Bubbling over with cunning, he could take advantage of any situation and turn the most barely noticeable weakness of the opposition or arbitration into a weapon for himself and his mates.

“That was Fats, a crackerjack player, smart as the proverbial whip, swift as a frightened gazelle and as tough an hombre as ever donned a pair of basketball trunks.”

(It should be noted that although Jenkins retired from the Renaissance, he did continue to road the parquet for a year or so as the captain for the almost-as-capable Chicago Crusaders.)

But just because he’d bid the Rens a bittersweet adieu, Fats was still raring to go on the baseball diamond, and just a couple months after the Renaissance’s historic success, Fats donned his baseball spikes yet again named manager of the Brooklyn Royal Giants baseball team in May ’39.

Reported the American Negro Press:

“From the offices of the Brooklyn Royal Giants comes an announcement which will be hailed with joy by the followers of baseball and basketball throughout the country.

“Clarence ‘Fats’ Jenkins, one of the most popular athletes of the diamond and court, has been named manager of this well known outfit of baseball players and will assume his duties immediately.

“‘Fats’ has been a member of the Renaissance basketball team for years and as such has established an outstanding reputation for speed and astuteness of play. For years, he was regarded as one of basketball’s greatest, he later blossomed out as an outfielder of the first degree.

“‘Fats’ was a star for several years with the Black Yankees and with his team won his reputation on the diamond. Keen of eye, fleet of foot, he was a major leaguer if there ever was one.

“In his new job, he will be a playing manager, filling one of the his outfield positions — there being no better than ‘Fats.’ He is expected to add power at the bat, defense in the field and color to the whole team.”

Throughout the ensuing spring, summer and fall, Jenkins piloted the barnstorming Royals against a packed slate of opponents from regional semipro teams like Union City, N.J.; the Bay Parkways of Brooklyn; Tremont, Pa.; and the East Chicago Colored Giants way out in Indiana.

New Journal and Guide, May 20, 1938

And for most of the places Jenkins and the Giants went that summer, his name, and their name, preceded them. Stated the Munster, Ind., Times newspaper in late June of that year:

“The Brooklyn Royal Giants are the oldest team in colored semi-pro ranks. The ‘Royals’ as they are known to the hundreds of thousands of baseball fans all over the country have successfully operated in the semi-pro ranks for over 35 years and have always had a good representative team. This season the team has been greatly strengthened and hopes to take the independent colored championship.”

In addition, a paper in Tremont, Pa., the West Schuykill Press and Pine Grove Herald (yes, that’s the full name, apparently), reported:

“Leading the brilliant array of colored stars will be Clarence Fat [sic] Jenkins [who] is well known to many Tremont fans as one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the cage game. ‘Fats’ manages the club and plays in the outfield. …

“The Brooklyn Royal Giants are strictly a road team and play over the entire country during the season. They are recognized as one of the finest dressed teams in the game with a reputation for gentlemanly conduct and plenty of pep and hustle.”

However, arguably the Royals’ biggest showdowns were against one of the preeminent white semipro teams in the country, the Brooklyn Bushwicks, who for nearly 40 years squared off against the best clubs in the region, included numerous clashes with the top Negro teams of the era as well as exhibitions against a galaxy of major league stars.

On July 30, 1939, one of New York’s most momentous semipro battles went down when the Bushwicks hosted the Royal Giants at the former’s illustrious Dexter Park. The Amsterdam News newspaper previewed the doubleheader thusly:

“The Royals recently have been touring the west and their record [illegible] is a procession of triumphs. The new pep of the club is directly traceable to the management of Jenkins, who has been performing in the outfield as well.

“Credit also should go to Jenkins’ [illegible] cleverness, for he has added to the roster several outstanding players. …”

Aside from the Bushwicks, one of the Royals’ other big encounters of the 1939 baseball season was a twin bill with the great Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City in June of that summer. Although the Bacharachs’ glory years had come and gone more than a decade earlier, their name still carried a hefty amount of cache.

The teams ended up splitting the doubleheader, with the Bees taking the top half, 9-7, and the Royals copping the nightcap, 1-0, in a thriller in which Jenkins scored the winning run. Over the two games Jenkins batted a cumulative 3-for-5, including a double and three runs scored, while hitting third in the order and patrolling left field.

Incidentally, at the end of the 1939 baseball season, Fats received plaudits not only for is on-field and on-court achievements, but also the result of those achievements — making bank. New Journal and Guide columnist Edgar Rouzeau, in his Oct. 7, 1939, entry, set out the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis, as black America’s most well paid athlete, then listed Jenkins at No. 2, asserting that Fats was a hybrid of two of the sports world’s most renowned names.

The column actually takes a dour twist by pointing out that unlike Jenkins and Louis, the vast majority of black sportsters struggle financially, placing Fats in even more rarefied air. Rouzeau wrote:

“Perhaps I should pause right here and admit that we do have a combination of Babe Ruth and Joe Lopchick [sic] in that great money player, Fats Jenkins, whose name is synonymous with Negro professional baseball and basketball and whose earnings from sports compares [sic] favorably with the increments of some of the best paid whites.

“Among colored athletes, he is several laps ahead of the field and second only to [Louis], but the significant thing here is that Fats Jenkins had to be superlative in two sports to get rich.

“He has been for many years, and still is, the highest paid Negro baseball player. He only forfeited his right to the last title when he stepped out and bought a half-interest in the Brooklyn Royal Giants baseball team and blossomed out in the triple role of owner-player-manager.

“Fats, however, is an exception. He has been playing basketball and baseball for eighteen years and is still going strong.”

(Really quickly, Fats Jenkins, as captain of the Rens, squared off against Joe Lapchick, the superstar of the Original Celtics, who were the best white hoops team. For 15-plus years the Celtics and the Rens squared off in some epic clashes that have since become part of basketball lore.)

Aside from the generous but dubious claim that Jenkins was the best-paid African-American baseball player — with Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and other superstars still on the scene — Rouzeau’s column contains a bit of reverse foreshadowing. Contrary to still going strong, Fats was already winding down his playing career.

Just a month later, he’d announce his retirement from the Rens. Then the 1940 campaign would be his last as a baseball player to any real extent. While he returned to lead the Brooklyn Royal Giants, he for all intents and purposes hung up his player’s cleats, became a successful businessman, and settled into domestic life in Philly.

He seems to have remained on the baseball periphery and occasionally flitted in and out. In January 1947 the Cleveland Call & Post reported that Jenkins had signed on as business manager of the Cleveland Buckeyes; the paper asserted Fats’ “ability to know ball players has been one of the main factors of success in the Buckeye camp.”

Throughout his hardball (well, and hardwood) career, Fats quickly gained the approval, then the respect and finally the admiration of all who say him, including those in the press, who continually singled out his heady, smart, speedy play — the same skills and abilities he flashed on the basketball court.

The many scribes in the white/mainstream press certainly appreciated Jenkins. In June 1931, a reporter for the Central New Jersey Home News (the name of an actual newspaper in New Brunswick, N.J.), in previewing a barnstorming contest between a local team and the Black Yankees, called Jenkins “one of the most versatile colored professional athletes extant,” adding that “in addition to being an ideal lead-off man is as brainy a player as comes up the pike. He has speed to burn.”

Olean (N.Y.) Times Herald, Aug. 21, 1935

In June 1939, the Times newspaper of Munster, Ind. (in northwest Indiana, near Gary and a little ways from Chicago), in an article (the same one I quoted earlier) announcing a game between the Brooklyn Royal Giants and the East Chicago Colored Giants, stated:

“Clarence ‘Fats’ Jenkins is manager of the [Royal Giants] and is considered one of the smartest men in Negro baseball ranks. ‘Fats’ Jenkins has worked very hard this spring to gather together what he thinks will be the best ball club that has represented the Giants for quite some time. In addition to playing one of the outfield posts, ‘Fats’ was considered as one of the outstanding basketball players of all times. He captained and played with the World’s professional champions, the Renaissance Big Five … ‘Fats’ has the widest acquaintance of an Negro player in the country.”

If any cadre of journalists knew about Fats and his abilities, it’s the reporters and editors in Harrisburg, where Jenkins first made his name in baseball in the 1920s. In mid-summer 1942, Harrisburg Telegraph sports columnist Welly Jones said thusly as Fats arrived back in Harrisburg with a barnstorming semi-pro baseball team, the Dixie Daisies:

“One feature will be the presence of Fats Jenkins who manages the Daisies. He will be given a great welcome. Fat [sic] Jenkins was a star for several seasons on the champion Harrisburg Giants’ team. He also is a great basketball star and has been in Harrisburg a number of times. One interesting feature Fat [sic] Jenkins pulled off frequently was to bunt and beat the ball to first base. He was a speedy runner. As an outfielder he had very few equals.”

As skilled, adept and well known Jenkins was on the diamonds, it was on the hardwood that he truly distinguished himself, especially within the African-American community. He became a role model and a symbol of the best the black athletic realm could offer.

Fats Jenkins was revered in the black sports world, not just because he was multi-talented, multi-sport superstar, but also because he was dedicated, loyal, encouraging and witty. In short, it was just his athletic prowess that made he beloved by fans, teammates and journalists, but also his effervescent personality and sense of pride and honor.

Fats Jenkins died in Philadelphia in December 1968, five years after the Renaissance Big Five was inducted into the Basketball Hall as a team and four years before Satchel was inducted into the Baseball HOF as the first career Negro Leaguer ushered into Cooperstown.

I know this an abrupt end to this piece, but this post is already way too long, and my pal Ted Knorr summed everything up beautifully, so I’ll him conclude things. Said Ted:

“I do not have enough superlatives to truly capture Clarence ‘Fats’ Jenkins.”

End note 1: Ted added that on June 15, Fats Jenkins will be inducted into the Capital Area Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. Reported Ted: “I am humbled to be the stand in for Fats that evening. He will join his picket mates of the 1924-1927 Harrisburg Giants in such recognition.”

End note 2: This is the first in what will hopefully be a trilogy of posts centered on Xavier University of New Orleans and its athletic program. Hopefully Part 2 will come soon.

End note 3: I also must point out that Jenkins wasn’t the only Negro Leaguer who did double duty with the Rens. Bill Yancey balanced both in the 1920s and ’30s as well, but not to the same level of success as Fats. Yancey’s tale, while fascinating, is one I’ll leave for others to tell.

One thought on “Xavier, Part 1: Fats Jenkins, two-sport star

  1. Pingback: Biography of Ted Strong Jr. brings light to two-sport star | The Negro Leagues Up Close

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