Lincoln University will induct its inaugural class into the Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 28. The first group of inductees will be honored during a ceremony at halftime of the Lincoln-Johnson C. Smith football game.
The school is looking for nominations for the Athletics Hall of Fame. The Lions have a great sports history. There are number of possible candidates as first ballot hall-of-famers. The following athletes, coaches and contributors should receive major consideration for this honor.
Dr. Frank “Tick” Coleman
Coleman is the school’s most prestigious alumnus. Coleman is known as “Mr. Lincoln.” He was a big reason why Lincoln brought football back to the school after a 48-year absence. The Lions restored the program in 2008.
Coleman played quarterback for Lincoln from 1931 to 1935. He was a real pioneer. Coleman was the first Black quarterback to play at Central High School. He guided the Lions to two consecutive Public League championships in 1929 and ’30.
He had great football prowess even before he arrived on Lincoln’s campus. Coleman encouraged many student athletes to achieve on and off the field. He passed away on December 25, 2008.
Robert “Whirlwind” Johnson
Johnson is known as “the godfather of tennis.” In 2009, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He’s responsible for developing the outstanding tennis careers of Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. In addition to his trailblazing efforts in tennis, he was a terrific football player. In 1924, he was selected to the Negro All-American football team.
Irvin was a three-sport athlete at Lincoln. He played baseball and football, and ran track for the Lions from 1938 to 1939. Irvin and Hank Thompson became the first African Americans to play for the then-New York Giants on July 8, 1949. In 1951, Irvin and Thompson joined Willie Mays to form the first all-Black outfield. In 1951, he hit .312 with 24 home runs and a major league best 121 RBIs.
Irvin completed a nine year major league career with a .293 average, 99 home runs, 443 RBIs and 366 runs scored. After retiring in 1958, he became the first African American to work in the MLB Commissioner’s office under Bowie Kuhn as a public relations specialist. He held this position from 1968 to 1984. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. The San Francisco Giants retired his No. 20 jersey in 2008.
Smith earned 13 letters during his college career (1948–1951). He played football, basketball, baseball and bowling. He played quarterback for the legendary coach Manuel Rivero. Smith was the director of sports information at Rutgers from 1972 to 1994. He had a distinguished career as a sports publicist at a major Division I school. Smith is retired and lives in North Brunswick, N.J.
Franz Alfred “Jazz” Byrd
Byrd was an All-American running back and quarterback for Lincoln’s football team. He is one of the school’s all-time great football players. He also ran track for the Lions. Byrd is a member of the class of 1925.
Rivero coached football, baseball, track and field and basketball at Lincoln. He coached baseball for nearly 40 years. He was also director of athletics. Rivero was a tremendous football and baseball player at Columbia University. In 1986, Lincoln named its gymnasium Manuel Rivero Hall.
Terrelonge had a great track career at Lincoln. He earned 19 Division II All-American honors in the 400 meters, 800 meters and 4x400 meter relay. He is a former NCAA two-time 400 meter champion, three-time 800 meter champion and still has the 800 meter NCAA Division II outdoor record. Terrelonge was a two-time Olympian for Jamaica. He is now the associate head track coach at the University of Connecticut.
Knox, a Chester High product, was Lincoln University’s first full-time sports information director. Knox, a Lincoln University alumnus, did an outstanding job of promoting and publicizing his alma mater.
He brought national attention to Lincoln when the school decided to bring football back in 2008. He was instrumental in getting major publicity from ESPN.com, The New York Times and other news outlets. He was the Lions’ SID from 2004 to 2009. After that, he had a two-year stint as the SID at Kutztown University. He is now the statistics manager in the Statistics & Analysis department at ESPN.
Nominations are due or post marked by July 9. For more information, go to www.lulions.com.