From SABR member Ronald Auther at Shadow Ball Express on June 8, 2016:
With the passing of Muhammad Ali, I’m taking a break from many other things that are pressing and important to reflect on life and the journey all great men take to master the Art of Sportsmanship. A picture that I’ve held in my personal archives for sometime, needs to be shared with one and all.
The man who steps int to the frame to give [George] Foreman the count, referee of this highly publicized prize fight is none other than Zachary “Smiley” Clayton, the former Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner. This particular battle between two giants was one of the many bouts that Zach Clayton refereed in his illustrious career as a professional ref. In 1949, Zachary M. Clayton was the first black man to receive a referee’s license with the state of Pennsylvania. By 1952, Zach Clayton was the first black man to referee a heavy weight title fight. That fight was between Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles.
For the record, Zach “Smiley” Clayton was a man of many talents, and it all began with baseball.
Born Leroy Watkins Clayton on April 17, 1917 in Gloucester County, Virginia, Zach “Smiley” Clayton was destined to play professional sports. He began his baseball career in 1931 at the age of 14, with the 1931 Santop’s Broncos, and ended up playing with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants in 1932, at the age of 15. He again played for the Bacharach’s in 1934, when they shifted from the Independent Negro League to the Negro National League. In 1935, “Smiley” moved his skill sets to play 1st Base for the Chicago American Giants. He skipped a year of play, then by 1937, he returned to play with the Chicago American Giants, as they shifted to the Negro American League.
He disappeared from the baseball scene till 1943.
Read the full article here: https://shadowballexpress.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words/
Originally published: June 7, 2016. Last Updated: June 7, 2016.