By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
On Monday morning, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced its 2016 induction class, which will be honored later this year. Duquesne basketball legend Cumberland Posey Jr. was among those inductees, making him the only person in sports history to be enshrined in both the basketball and baseball halls of fame.
After the historic announcement was made, Posey’s alma mater honored his legacy in the Power Center Ballroom, which welcomed a number of his descendants, including his great nephew, Dr. Evan Baker.
Baker took pride in his great uncle’s achievement and stated that his spirit lives on through his family.
“It’s a wonderful accomplishment for him, and all our family takes pride in this,” Baker said. “[Being in two halls of fame] is quite an accomplishment. Certainly, it was a great honor for our family to go through the process when he was inducted into the baseball hall of fame and I feel truly blessed to be able to go through it again.”
Born in Homestead in 1890, Posey inherited his successful nature from his parents. His mother, Angelina Stevens Posey, was the first African American to graduate from the Ohio State University, while his father, Cumberland Posey Sr., was the first licensed black engineer in the United States at the time.
Posey had always been outstanding at sports, according to Baker. He won a city championship with Homestead High in 1908 and was the Dukes’ leading scorer from 1917-1919. According to Duquesne president Charles Dougherty, it’s also believed that Posey was the first black athlete enrolled at the university.
Following his time at Duquesne, Posey focused most of his attention on his other love: baseball. By 1920, Posey owned, coached and played for the Homestead Grays, a Negro National League team. Alongside other baseball greats including Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard, the Grays won numerous Negro League titles and even defeated some of the nation’s top all-white clubs.
“He was a true sportsman, in the sense,” Baker said. “He played the sport, obviously, but he was also involved in the business side of it. That was something he got from his father, who was an innovator at the turn of the 21st century.”
According to Baker, Posey learned how to run a pro sports team from some of the biggest names in business, including Art Rooney, the founder and former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rooney was known to have financially backed Posey’s Grays during the early 30s and 40s.
Dougherty said he is proud to have had an alumnus like Posey play a crucial role in Duquesne’s history.
“It makes a statement about our society and it makes a statement about the university being way out in front in race relationships when those things were very, very difficult across the U.S. and even in Pittsburgh at the time,” Dougherty said.
Posey will be officially inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 8. He will join a star-studded list comprised of himself, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes, Jerry Reinsdorf, Tom Izzo, John McLendon, Zelmo Beaty and Darell Garretson.