By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
The Pride Of Newark And Bowie State
On November 17, 2001, Charles Alston took his athletic versatility to the extreme as he played defensive end for the Bulldogs in a football game in the afternoon and that night played center in a basketball game.
That unique daily double earned him a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame.
The football pants and basketball jersey Alston wore from that day are on exhibit there. Some five decades earlier, another Bowie State product also excelled on the dual ends of the sports world.
A native of Maryland, Bob Harvey was a slugging outfielder for the Newark Eagles, Houston Eagles, and New Orleans Eagles from 1943 through 1951. Before his baseball days, he was a standout on the gridiron for the Bulldogs.
Born on May 28, 1918, the 6-foot, 220-pound Harvey was a two-time East-West All-Star Classic selection (1948, 1950) and a member of Newark’s 1946 Negro National League championship team.
As a youngster, Harvey was a standout in football and baseball. After graduating from St. Michael’s High in 1937, Harvey would go on to attend Bowie State.
While at BSU, Harvey’s athletic focus would turn to football. Despite playing just two seasons for the Bulldogs, his gridiron exploits were enough to put him into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
However, Harvey still had the baseball bug in him. It would take him nearly five years before he’d get the chance to make his mark in the Negro Leagues. He requested a tryout with the Newark Eagles in 1939 after contacting the club’s owner, Abe Manley.
Manley didn’t sign Harvey right away, but that didn’t stop him from honing his craft. While waiting for the call, he toiled for several semipro teams including the Denton Tigers.
Newark manager Dick Lundy finally gave Harvey his shot in 1944. The left handed slugger responded with a modest .309 average. However, it was during the 1946 championship season that Harvey and the Eagles would come into their own.
Playing with future Hall of Famers Larry Doby and Monte Irvin, Harvey hit a career -high .389 and helped Newark break the Homestead Grays’ nine-year stranglehold on the Negro National League.
Newark finished 47-16 and dominated the National League to take the pennant. They would go on to meet the heavily favored Kansas City Monarchs (43-14) in the Negro League World Series.
Ironically, it was a base running play by Harvey in Game One that would set the tone for the series. Not known for his speed or base stealing ability, the husky Harvey would use his old football instincts in a pivotal moment.
Harvey broke up a double play with a hard slide on K.C. rookie shortstop Jim Hamilton. The play would sideline the slick fielding Hamilton for the remainder of the series.
The Eagles would outlast the Monarchs and win the series in seven games. That winter, Harvey played on a Negro League All-Star squad that toured the Caribbean. Harvey also played winter ball the next two seasons for Aquadilla of the Puerto Rican League.
In 1948, Harvey hit .363 and made the first of his two East-West Classic appearances for the East. A year later, following the demise of the Negro National League, the Eagles relocated to Houston. In 1950, Harvey hit .367 and made his second East-West Classic.
By 1951, Harvey’s baseball career would come to an end while playing for the Elmwood Giants of the Mandak League. Following his playing days Harvey worked for a pharmaceutical manufacturer for over three decades.
Bob Harvey passed away of a blood disorder on June 27, 1992 in Monclair, New Jersey. He’ll be remembered as one of the fore bearers of such two sport athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders
NOTE: The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues and The Negro League Baseball Players Association contributed to this story.