Pioneer sportscaster Maxwell dies at 100

Funeral services were held in Newark, New Jersey last weekend for former sportscaster Sherman “Jocko” Maxwell. Considered the first Black sportscaster, Maxwell died of complications from pneumonia at a suburban Philadelphia hospital. He was 10

Funeral services were held in Newark, New Jersey last weekend for former sportscaster Sherman “Jocko” Maxwell.

Considered the first Black sportscaster, Maxwell died of complications from pneumonia at a suburban Philadelphia hospital. He was 100.

During the early 1920s, Maxwell broadcast Newark Eagles game in the Negro League on Newark radio station WNJR.

“His life was nothing but sports,” said his daughter Bernice Maxwell Cross. “If you weren’t talking about sports with him, he really didn’t know what to talk about.”

Bob Kendrick, the director of marketing for the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, Mo., said Maxwell was well known to Negro League players as someone who got the word out and kept records that would otherwise have been lost.

“He was a significant figure in Negro Leagues baseball,” Kendrick said.

“He was unique,” said Negro League great Monte Irvin, who played with the Eagles.

Irvin recalled how Maxwell did live play-byplay of Eagles games from Ruppert stadium in Newark.

“We all thought that was just a great thing,” Irvin said.

In addition to radio, Maxwell was also a prolific writer who would cover Negro League games and submit stories to newspapers, including the Newark Star-Ledger and the Baseball Digest.

“The old Afro-American players owe him one helluva debt,” Star-Ledger columnist Jerry Izenberg wrote last week. “So do the fans we had before they broke down racial barriers. The game of baseball itself owes him a debt.”

Maxwell fulfilled a lifelong dream in 1991 when he visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

“That was indeed something special,” Maxwell said at the time.

Izenberg said Maxwell shouldn’t have to wait to get in the Hall of Fame.

“Baseball really missed out when Maxwell wasn’t inducted in the broadcasters wing of the Hall of Fame,” Izenberg said.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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