They set the standards

Posted: June 11, 2007

YESTERDAY, LEWIS HAMILTON became the first black man to win a Formula One race. We use "black" instead of African-American because Lewis is from England.

Hamilton's feat got us to thinking about firsts among African-American athletes (worldwide is a bit beyond our scope). As with any list, we're sure to leave someone out so feel free to add your own. So, in no particular order, we remember:

* Emlen Tunnell: former Radnor High star and first to be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame (1967); first fulltime assistant coach in NFL; played for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

* Jackie Robinson: first major league baseball player (1947, Brooklyn Dodgers), elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (1962).

* Willie Thrower: first NFL quarterback (1953, Chicago Bears).

* Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton: first to sign an NBA contract (New York Knicks, 1950).

* Fritz Pollard: first NFL coach (1922–1937).

* Lee Elder: first to play in the Masters (1974).

* Tiger Woods: first to win the Masters (1997).

* Willie O'Ree: first NHL player (1958, Boston Bruins).

* Althea Gibson: first (woman or man) to play in and win Wimbledon (1957).

* Arthur Ashe: first male tennis champion, U.S. (1968), Australian (1970) Opens and Wimbledon (1975).

* Jack Johnson: first heavyweight boxing champion (1908-15).

* Ernie Davis: first Heisman Trophy winner (Syracuse, 1961).

* Rafer Johnson: first Olympic decathlon gold medal winner (1960).

* Cito Gaston: first manager to win World Series (Toronto, 1992 and 1993).

* John Thompson: first college basketball coach to win NCAA championship (Georgetown, 1984).

* Oscar Robertson: first (and only) player to average a triple-double for an entire season.

* Wilt Chamberlain: former Overbrook star, first and only player to score 100 points in an NBA game (March 2, 1962). *

- Tom Mahon

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