Amore: George Crowe cleared fences, broke barriers in two sports

From Don Amore at the Hartford Courant on June 17, 2014:

It did not take long for George Crowe to impress fans in Hartford. A crowd of 5,249 jammed into Bulkeley Stadium on May 7, 1950, when the Chiefs played the first home game of the new season, and they got a glimpse of what that Summer of George Crowe would be like.

In the fifth inning, Crowe hit “a tremendous home run smash over the center field wall,” according to The Courant.

And it didn’t take Crowe long to win friends, either, regardless of where they were coming from.

“He was a hell of a nice guy,” remembered Ford Jordan, 86, a North Carolinian who played third base for the Chiefs in 1950. “I used to go to his house and visit with George and his wife, and we’d laugh about it back then. I’d say, ‘If my Daddy knew I was here, he’d run me out of the house.'”

Things were changing in sports, and throughout American society, and Crowe, remembered as an imposing, educated man of few words but effective action, was one of the most important athletes of his time. Though he would eventually withdraw from a society that left him frustrated, George Crowe brought about change in many of the people he knew and many of the places where he played basketball and baseball.

“There was a lot of prejudice, but it was still enjoyable,” Crowe told the Franklin (Ind.) Daily Journal in 2010, a year before his death at age 89. “I don’t know exactly what made it enjoyable, but it was.”

Crowe was among the first generation of African American athletes bringing integration to professional basketball and baseball, and as it happened he played both in the South End of Hartford in 1949 and 1950.

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Originally published: June 20, 2014. Last Updated: June 20, 2014.