Jerry Harkness was motivated by Jackie Robinson to take up the sport of ball. He wound up turning into a social equality pioneer by his own doing.
Following a way cleared by Major League Baseball’s first Black player, Harkness drove Loyola Chicago to an obstruction breaking public title in ball in 1963 and a was pioneer well after his playing profession.
The school declared Harkness kicked the bucket Tuesday morning at 81 after a long existence of getting through limits and one major Game of Change.
“We all at Loyola have weighty hearts today,” Loyola mentor Drew Valentine said in an explanation. “Jerry was a genuine pioneer in ball, yet in such countless various different backgrounds, and the effect he made was endless.”
A double cross All-American at Loyola, Harkness was important for the 1963 group that won a public title with four Black starters and played in what became known as the Game of Change.
State laws precluded Mississippi State from playing incorporated groups, however the Maroons — presently Bulldogs — got away under front of dimness to play Loyola in East Lansing, Michigan, in the opening round of the Mid-East regionals. Harkness warmly greeted Mississippi State commander Joe Dan Gold before the game in a notable second.
“Kid, the flashbulbs. I was unable to accept,” Harkness reviewed in 2018. “I just couldn’t comprehend. … I was stunned. I glanced him in his eyes. He didn’t grin; I attempted to grin at him. I could tell he was there, he was glad to play us and he was glad to be there. He had on his game face. I was stunned with the bulbs and I returned to the cluster in sort of a surprise, a little.
“I thought, kid, this is in excess of a game. This is history.”
Loyola went to work, winning by 10. A short time later, the Maroons talked about the ball, not the occasion.
“They were amazing refined men — actually like some other group we played,” said Gold, the Mississippi State chief who kicked the bucket in 2011. “They beat us in all out attack mode backboards. They just had such a large number of huge men for us and they won it by taking that load of bounce back.”
The Ramblers proceeded to beat defending champ Cincinnati in additional time for the school’s just public title.
Harkness, Ron Miller, Vic Rouse and Les Hunter — white watchman John Egan was the other starter — got passing dangers sent to their residence and suffered insults from fans in Houston during their title run. Texas Western won a public title with five Black starters three years after the fact, beating an all-white Kentucky group trained by Adolph Rupp.
The passing dangers, Harkness once reviewed, came after Loyola opened the NCAA competition by beating Tennessee Tech by 69 a couple of miles from their Chicago grounds. It put the Ramblers into the matchup against Mississippi State and that prompted some terrible letters from Ku Klux Klan individuals, calling them names and saying they reserved no option to play, showing up at their quarters on Sheridan Road.
Harkness got two of those letters, some were shipped off different partners. Mentor George Ireland ended up taking them, excusing the dangers as garbage.
“I was all right about it after we got over that,” Harkness said. “A few days, we were headed to Michigan so I felt okay around then.”
Harkness played one season with the NBA’s New York Knicks subsequent to being drafted in the second round and two more with the ABA’s Indiana Pacers. He went on to an effective profession in business and broadcasting, turning into the main Black representative for Quaker Oats.
“We are profoundly disheartened to have lost not just one of Loyola’s unsurpassed incredible players, yet additionally one of everything time extraordinary people,” Loyola athletic chief Steve Watson said. “Our considerations and supplications are with his family, previous colleagues and innumerable companions.”
Harkness was Indianapolis’ first Black sportscaster, worked with the United Way of Greater Indianapolis and ran an athletic shoe establishment.
“When I took in the tale of the 1963 Ramblers b-ball group, Jerry became one of my good examples,” current Loyola watch Lucas Williamson said. “He will be profoundly missed and everlastingly recognized as truly outstanding to wear a Loyola pullover.”
A local of the Bronx, he is an individual from various corridors of distinction, including the College Basketball Hall of Fame. Harkness is made due by his significant other, Sarah, and two youngsters.