Ted Strong Jr. (1917-1978) was a two-sport athlete, a major star of the Negro Leagues and one of the original Harlem Globetrotters. His prominence in the Negro Leagues led Branch Rickey and other white baseball league owners to consider Strong as one of several possible players to integrate major league baseball, and he was a key force on the basketball court when the Globetrotters defeated the then-invincible Minneapolis Lakers in 1948. Despite his athletic dominance in the 1930s and 40s, Strong Jr. has largely been forgotten in American sports history.
In Ted Strong Jr.: The Untold Story of an Original Harlem Globetrotter and Negro Leagues All-Star, Sherman L. Jenkins finally shares the fascinating story of this star athlete. Born Theodore Relighn Strong Jr. in South Bend, Indiana, Strong Jr., the eldest of fourteen children, was fortunate to have a positive influence in his father-a baseball player himself. Strong Jr. went on to play in seven Negro League Baseball East-West All-Star games, receiving the most votes in all of Black baseball history in 1939, and was a key member of the 1940 Harlem Globetrotter basketball team that won the World Professional Basketball Championship. Jenkins details all of this and more, including Strong Jr.'s frustrations with integration efforts promised by white baseball team owners and the eventual decline of the Negro Leagues after the entrance of Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball.
Through hours of interviews with Strong Jr.'s father and with friends and teammates of his brother Othello, along with extensive research of newspaper archives, this book provides rich insights into an unsung hero in the American sports landscape. For baseball and basketball fans of all ages, Ted Strong Jr.'s biography displays for the first time the determination and guts of a man who was idealized by many African Americans in the early twentieth century.
Sherman L. Jenkins is president of SLJ Communications, Inc., a digital media company, where he is also publisher and editor of a monthly online newspaper covering African American life outside of Chicago. He is a retired director of economic development in Illinois and previously served as a senior account executive for public relations programs. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research's Negro Leagues Committee.
Preface Acknowledgments Chapter 1: It Started with a Senior Chapter 2: "Ted Was Big for His Age" Chapter 3: Ted Jr. Comes into His Own Chapter 4: The Sky Is the Limit Chapter 5: Prime Time Abounds with Hiccups Chapter 6: The Fifteenth Season Chapter 7: 1942-1943: A Season of Change, World War II Calls Chapter 8: The Brothers Return Chapter 9: "Life for Me Ain't Been No Crystal Stair" Chapter 10: 1947 Chapter 11: Ted Jr.'s Younger Brother Begins to "Break 'Em" Off Chapter 12: Twilight Triple Header Epilogue Appendix A: Facts about Ted Strong Jr. Appendix B: Quotes about Ted Strong Jr. Appendix C: Ted Strong Jr.'s Baseball Statistics Notes Selected Bibliography Index About the Author