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Remembering Joe Booker
HOUSTON — My friend Joe Booker passed away on December 9. “Joe who”?, some will ask.
Joe Booker, who wrote for this internet site, Blackathlete.net, was the sports editor of the Forward Times Newspaper, a Black weekly in Houston ,Texas, and at one time was the sports information director for Prairie View A&M University.
Joe loved sports. In his youth he participated as an athlete, but he learned early his “calling” was as a sportswriter. He had a chance to cover the championship football teams of Coach Billy Nicks at Prairie View A&M University during the 1960s.
Joe loved covering the sports teams in Houston. He handled many “delicate” situations in athletics with the skills of a professional. He was always battling for equality for the Black athlete.
He questioned the Houston Astros on their lack of Black Americans on the team. He suggested names to white coaches of Black coaches that could enhance their programs on the high school, college, and professional level.
This reporter had shared many fond memories with Joe. When Houston hosted its’ first Super Bowl in 1972, the two of us predicted it would be years before another Super Bowl returned to the fourth largest city in the nation.
We often joked of how many of the National Football League bigwigs complained about the lack of a great time in 1972. Houston shutdown at 9pm in most places in those days.
“I wonder if we will live to see the next Super Bowl here?,” Joe asked many times after the initial Super Bowl here.
“We made it,” he ripped proudly when the 2004 Super Bowl was played in Houston. “I’m so glad I lived to see it.”
He was also proud Houston showed the NFL how to celebrate a Super Bowl with class. “The vistors to Houston will not go to bed at 9pm during this Super Bowl ,” he remarked.
Joe Booker introduced me to home run king Hank Aaron during the “Hammer’s” playing days. Many times they would get together after games for dinner or card playing.
He allowed me to tag along. I got a chance to see another great side of Aaron thanks to his relationship with Joe Booker.
For those of you who didn’t know Joe Booker, you missed a great human being. He crossed many barriers. He loved sports. He loved athletes. He loved the sports atmosphere.
During his days as sports information at Prairie View A&M University, Joe worked hard to publicize the achievements of Panther coaches and players.
He would come out of his own pocket many times to make sure they were covered by area media. Many times he would arrange hotel and traveling accomodations for willing media members to travel with Panther teams.
Joe Booker was a proud Black man who wasn’t afraid to acknowledge his pride of being black. He was always excited about writing for the Forward Times and his love of blackathlete.com was high on his list of things he enjoyed.
He will be missed here at Blackathlete.com on a worldwide level and in Houston via his columns in the Forward Times Newspaper.