Friday, February 15, 2013

Sherman Maxwell: The First Black Sportscaster

Before we all loved "Boo-yah!" by Stuart Scott. Before Greg Gumbel and Fred Hickman became pioneers at ESPN and CNN, respectively. Before OJ Simpson was on Monday Night Football. There was Sherman "Jocko" Maxwell, the first recorded Black sportscaster in history.

Maxwell got his start in 1929 doing a 5-minute weekly radio sports report on WNJR in Newark, New Jersey. Despite being turned down 25 times, his persistence was rewarded and soon he became all around the state. He expanded to do radio on WHOM and WRNY in the 30's and 40's and he devoted his energy to his love of baseball.

With the Negro Leagues in full swing at that time, he would call games on the radio and even served as the PA announcer for the Newark Eagles. He'd also submit game stories since the Newark Star-Ledger didn't send anyone to cover Negro League games and eventually wrote a column in Baseball Digest

Maxwell stayed in radio until 1967. He was inducted into the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame and died in 2008 at the age of 100. As the great Sam Lacy was a pioneer for me and so many others in print, Maxwell made waves for future Black sportscasters in radio and television. His stories and recordkeeping would prove crucial to preserving the history of the Negro Leagues as time passed.

To Mr. Maxwell, I say thank you.

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