What Does Johnny Unitas Have to Do With DC Basketball?

Well, we’re all connected. I was browsing a fascinating book by Tom Callahan about the great Unitas:


On page 100, the story is told that star Colts’ back Lenny Moore approached legendary New York sportswriter “Red” Smith- asking what was known about the first Black players in the NFL. Smith suggested Moore read a book by DC native Dr. Edwin B. Henderson:

Henderson was truly a sports pioneer in his own right- having introduced basketball to so many public schoolchildren, organized the East Coast’s first scholastic sports leagues, and coached the historic Twelfth Street YMCA basketball team. Here’s what “Red” Smith wanted “Spats” Moore to read:


Bet it was inspirational. Although there were plenty of segregated Baltimore establsihments and stores by the time Moore and his teammates Lenny Lyles, Gene “Big Daddy” Lipscomb, and Jim Parker came along, Dr. Henderson’s work chronicled early NFL star Fritz Pollard, who actually coached a pro team. Sort of like Mike Tomlin today. Moore went on to a Hall of Fame career as both a back and flanker.



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