This Week in Sports History, April 16, 2019

April 16

Tim Ford becomes youngest winner in Boston Marathon history

On April 16, 1906, 18-year-old Timothy Ford took first place in the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:45:45. His record still stands as the youngest individual to win the race. The Boston Marathon is an long distance running event held in Massachusetts that attracts thousands of runner from across the US every year. It was first held on April 19, 1897 and occurs annually on the third monday of April. It has since become the world’s oldest annual marathon.

 

April 18

Sam Jethroe becomes 1st African-American to play for Boston Braves

Samuel Jethroe was born to a farming family in Old Zion, Mississippi in 1917. He grew up playing semi pro ball, both for the East St. Louis Colts and St. Louis Giants. Early in 1945 Jethroe, along with two other African-American players Marvin Williams and Jackie Robinson, attended tryouts at Fenway Park in Boston, Mass. Despite impressing the coach, color barrier still prevented all three men from playing professional baseball. Robinson went on to break the major-league color barrier in 1947, but Jethroe became the first African-American to play major-league baseball in Boston on April 18, 1950, when he played for the Boston Braves.

Bill Russell becomes first African-American coach in NBA history

Another major step in breaking the color barrier occured on April 18, 1966 when Bill Russell, an African-American man, was named the coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team. According to Clarion Ledger, he was the first African-American head coach in the post-Depression era of any major American sport. For his actions as a civil rights pioneer on and off the court, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. There is a statue of him outside Boston City Hall. Today, African-Americans are still a minority among NBA coaches, coaching only six of 30 teams in the 2018 season.

 

April 22

Women allowed to compete in Little 500 bicycle race

The Little 500, or “Little Five,” cycling race was started by Howard S. Wilcox Jr., the director of the Indiana University Foundation in 1951. This event was created as a way to bring students together but originally only allowed male students to participate. In 1988, the significant interest of women in competing lead Phyllis Klotman, the dean of women’s affairs, to suggest a women’s version of the cycling race. On April 22, 1988, the first Little 500 was held with 30 all-women teams competing in a 100 lap race. The event was also opened to men but will eventually be replaced in 2022 by the Little 50, a relay running race.

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