Preserving History & Legacies
Jim Dent: A Long Championship Drive
Jim Dent was born May 9, 1939 in Augusta, GA. He lost his parents at an incredibly young age and was raised by his aunt, who kept him from falling into the street life of Augusta. As a teenager, he got his first taste of the golf game as a caddy to earn a little money.
He was 17 when he bought his first set of clubs for $30 from a worker at the pro shop at the Augusta Country Club, where he caddied. In 1959, Dent won a football scholarship to Paine College, a Methodist school in Augusta not far from The Hill.
But his love of the game of golf lured him away from football and Dent quit school after a year to work on his game. He spent the next seven years in Atlantic City, N.J. working as a busboy and waiter at the Smithfield Inn where he met another young golf enthusiast James Black, who helped Dent with his game. They traveled to some events conducted by the United Golfers Association, the association for black golfers. Dent eventually moved to California where he met Moses Stevens, a wealthy black businessman who gave Dent his big boost. Stevens was impressed with Dent’s ability to hit the ball long and each morning Stevens would bring a big tub of balls at to local driving range and watched Dent practice. He had a chance meeting with the Johnny Goodman,1933 U.S. Open and the 1937 U.S. Amateur championships. Goodman was so intrigued by Dent’s talent, he paid for Dent to take six lessons.In the late 1960s, Dent took his crack at the PGA Tour qualifying school, shooting 74-75, then sliding to an 85. He decided to go back to California to work on his game.
The following year, he fired 282 for 72 holes at Tucson (Arizona) Country Club and qualified for the PGA Tour. Dent turned professional in 1966, joined the PGA Tour in 1970. In the 1970s, he was joined by Charlie and Curtis Sifford, Lee Elder, Chuck Thorpe and George Johnson formed the nucleus of about a dozen black players on the tour. During his PGA Tour career, Dent won four unofficial tournaments and more 6 million in his professional golfing career. He was considered one of the best long ball hitters in pro golf history. In 1989, he was a staple on the seniors Champions Tour where he won more than 5 million on the senior golf circuit. Dent earned exempt status on the senior tour. He was no. 31 on the Senior Tour money list with 12 Senior PGA victories including the Home Depot Invitational in 1998.
Tom Alston: A&T Baseball Legend
Tom Alston was born on January 31, 1926 in Greensboro, North Carolina. He became an outstanding first baseman while playing his college ball on the North Carolina A&T Aggies varsity team.
After graduation, Alston was signed by the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League and played in 180 games in 1953 before the Saint Louis Cardinals traded for him after a mandate by the owner August Busch to sign a black player after Jackie Robinson (UCLA) and Larry Doby (VA Union) broke through the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
He made his Major League debut on April 13, 1954 at Sportsman’s Park and became the first black player in Saint Louis Cardinals history. He played in 66 games during his rookie season, batting .246 with 4 home runs and 34 runs batted in. After that, he got into 25 more games over the course of the next three seasons and spent most of his major league career splitting time between the majors and the Class AAA Omaha Cardinals, where he had a .306 batting average and 21 home runs in 1956. In his career, he played in 91 games and a .244 batting average (66-for-271), 4 home runs, 36 RBI, 30 runs scored, and an on-base percentage of .311. In his 81 appearances at first base, his fielding percentage of .987 (680 – 689 chances) was just slightly under the league average during his era.
Alston’s career was cut short by medical issues which forced his hospitalization after his playing career was over. He died on December 30, 1993.
A Celebration of Black College History in Sports
One of the greatest and most entertaining basketball players of the 90’s was Alphonso Ford who starred for Mississippi Valley State University in the SWAC. His effervescent style wooed fans across two continents as he put together a circuitous career in professional basketball.
From the SWAC to the NBA and CBA to the Euroleague, Alphonso Ford left an impression on those he played with and against and those who argue what might have been. Yet, his greatest could not be denied. READ MORE
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY
1881 TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE established on July 4 by Lewis Adams and Booker T. Washington
… later renamed Tuskegee University …home to George Washington Carver and World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen…Tigers football team has won 29 SIAC championships…established oldest African American relay meet in 1927.
1897 WINSTON-SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY founded as Slater Industrial School for Negroes…famous alumni include former NBA players Cleo Hill and Hall of Famer Earl Monroe and NFL star Timmy Newsome.
1927 TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY founded as Houston Junior College… is one of the largest HBCUs in the nation with over 10,000 students…famous alum: Barbara Jordan, NFL Hall of Famers Michael Strahan, Ken Burroughs, Pittsburgh Steeler great Ernie Holmes, CFL Hall of Famer Donald Narcisse, and Olympic gold medalist Jim Hines.
1960 WILMA RUDOLPH, Tennessee State… world-record-holding Olympic champion and international sports icon in track and field as leader of the TSU Tigerbelles… 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games…won three Gold medals in the 1960 Olympics in the 100M, 200M and anchored the 4X100 relay team.
1964, 1968 WYOMIA TYUS, Tennessee State…first person to retain the Olympic title in the 100M as a member of the famed Tigerbelles…led the 4x100M relay team to another gold medal in 1968 Olympics….added a gold medal in the 200M at the 1967 Pan AM Games.