Cumberland Posey: Only Person Elected To Baseball & Basketball Hall-of-Fame

Cumberland Posey, the only person in the Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame
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Cumberland Posey, the only person in the Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame, was not only an excellent athlete. He also was one of the shrewdest businessmen and talent evaluators in the Negro Leagues, a fierce advocate for Black baseball and a sports pioneer.

Early in the 20th century, the Pittsburgh-area native became the first African American to play sports at Penn State and then at Duquesne, where he used an alias. Later, Posey became owner of the Homestead Grays, considered one of the greatest teams in the history of Negro League baseball.

“He is one of the three most important owners in Negro League baseball,” says Jim Overmyer, author of Cum Posey of the Homestead Grays. Overmyer includes Posey among the most influential Negro Leagues figures with fellow Hall of Famers Rube Foster, a team executive, and James L. Wilkinson, the Kansas City Monarchs' owner.

Posey’s business acumen allowed him to take “a long view,” Overmyer says, which led to financial and competitive success for the Grays as they barnstormed and played in the Negro Leagues. He also was a revered figure in Pittsburgh.

“Some may say he crushed the weak as well as the strong on the way to the top of the ladder,” wrote Wendall Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, a nationally prominent Black newspaper. “But no matter what his critics say, they cannot deny that he was the smartest man in Negro League baseball and certainly the most successful.”

Cumberland Posey: A Descendant of Freed Slaves

The grandson of freed slaves, Posey was born June 20, 1890, in Homestead, Pennsylvania, a borough seven miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

His father, Cumberland “Cap” Willis Posey Sr., became what is believed to be the country's first Black licensed riverboat engineer. The elder Posey built riverboats and founded and owned the Diamond Coke and Coal Company.

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