ROBBINSVILLE – A civil rights and entertainment pioneer … a 10-time major league All-Star and Hall of Famer … a Negro leagues star who broke the color barrier in the American League. Each is among the 10 Garden State sporting luminaries inducted into the NJSIAA Bollinger Hall of Fame, class of 2011.
Paul Robeson, whose father was a slave, was a phenomenal, four-sport athlete at Somerville High School. After graduating from there in 1915, he became an All-American football star at Rutgers – despite the fact that some opposing teams refused to take the field against an African-American. Once his studies at Rutgers were completed, he had a brief career in the football organization that evolved into the National Football League. But Robeson’s greatest impact was far outside the realm of athletics. As a world famous entertainer he sang on Broadway and appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films. Ultimately blacklisted by the entertainment industry because of his controversial civil rights activism, he traveled and performed widely throughout Europe. When he died in 1976, Robeson’s obituary appeared on the front page of the New York Times.
Carteret’s Joe “Ducky” Medwick, a lifetime .324 hitter during a major league career that spanned 17 seasons, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1968. Playing for the Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Braves, he was voted National Leagues MVP in 1937, the year he accomplished the rare feat of capturing the Triple Crown by leading his circuit in batting average, runs batted in, and home runs.
A Paterson native, Larry Doby was 23 in 1947, when – only 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson famously “shattered the color barrier” by becoming the first African-American to appear in a major league game – he took the field for the Cleveland Indians to become the first African-American in the American League. He ultimately played 13 seasons for the Indians, White Sox, and Tigers, and in 1998 was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In New Jersey, Doby joined the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League at age 17, and was also a baseball and football star at Paterson’s Eastside High School.
“It’s absolutely an honor for all of us at the NJSIAA to enshrine these 10 great individuals who accomplished so much in the athletic arena and, in many cases, beyond,” says Steve Timko, executive director of the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association). “They’re more than sports figures – in many cases, they’re heroes from whom we can all learn. Though passion and commitment, they’ve contributed mightily to the fabric of our society.”
Along with Robeson, Medwick, and Doby, the other 2011 inductees are:
- Joe Silver spent 43 years at Hillside High School as a coach, athletic director, teacher, and administrator. He coached basketball, baseball, track, golf, and tennis, and also had stints at Belvidere High School and Florida’s St. Andrews High School.
- Derek Holloway was a football and track star at Palmyra High School during the late 1970s. He then went on to appear in four major college bowl games while playing for the University of Arkansas.
- Carol Parsons spent 25 years as a coach, teacher, and administrator at Princeton High School, then joined the NJSIAA, where she spent nearly two decades as assistant director and associate director.
- Tony Meola, a soccer legend at Kearny High School in the mid-‘80s, helped the University of Virginia to a share of the 1989 national title. He starred on the U.S. national team in the 1990 and 1994 World Cup competitions, and was also a Major League Soccer standout. A multi-sport athlete, Meola was drafted by baseball’s New York Yankees out of high school, and tried out as a placekicker for the New York Jets in 1994.
- Anthony Ferrainolo has been the baseball coach at West New York (Memorial) High School since 1977. With a total of 756 wins, he’s the most successful baseball coach in NJSIAA history.
- William “Bucky” Hatchett earned a remarkable 12 varsity letters at Verona High School before his graduation in 1946, then qualified for 10 more at Rutgers University. He was Rutgers’ first African-American senior class president; Verona’s athletic field is now named for him.
- Walter Burrows covered sports across southern New Jersey for more than 60 years. He joined the Courier Post in 1947, and while he frequently wrote about the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Phillies, he’s best known for reporting on high school athletics.
Established in 1995 and named for Short Hills -based sponsor Bollinger Insurance, a provider of sports-related insurance products, the NJSIAA’s Bollinger Hall of Fame receives nominations annually from high schools across the state. These submissions are reviewed by a selection committee that makes final decisions regarding inductees.
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