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Sherman "Jacko" Maxwell
Sherman "Jocko" Maxwell was born on this date in 1907. He was a Black sports broadcaster, journalist, and postal worker.
A Newark, N.J. native Sherman Leander Maxwell was the son of William and Bessie E. (Harris) Maxwell. In 1928, Sherman graduated from Newark Central High School. He had hoped to attend Panzer College of Physical Education and Hygiene in East Orange, only to find it did not accept Black students.
Maxwell's broadcast career began in 1929 when he talked the owner of WNJR in Newark into giving him five minutes of air time every Saturday to read scores. He later served in World War II, taking pride in the fact that his quick typing skills landed him a job organizing entertainment, such as boxing matches, for his army regiment. After service, Maxwell went on to broadcast for various stations over the years, all while working full-time as a postal clerk.
During his career, Maxwell also ran his own multiracial semi-pro baseball team, the Newark Starlings, and was the voice of the Newark Eagles at the city's old Ruppert Stadium. Maxwell was also a prolific writer, who would cover Negro League games and submit write-ups to the newspapers, including The Ledger, predecessor of The Star-Ledger, which didn't cover the games at that time. In addition to the local papers, his work appeared in the Sporting News and magazines. He also wrote a book entitled "Thrills and Spills in Sports" (1940). In 1943, he married Louise Bennet.
Monte Irvin, a Hall of Fame baseball player who once played for the Negro League's Newark Eagles, said of Maxwell, "He was unique; we all thought that was just a great thing.” Sam Lacy, the late sports columnist for the Baltimore Afro-American said, "No blacks were doing it, not in this country," he said. "Absolutely, he was the first."
He retired from radio in 1967. Jerry Izenberg, columnist emeritus for The Star-Ledger, said "The first thing about Jocko to know is that there would be very few records of the Negro Leagues that are accurate and there would be almost none without him. He could sense the meaning of what he was doing. He knew that one day this stuff would be important."
In 1994, Maxwell was inducted into the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame. America’s first black sportscaster and a chronicler of the Negro Leagues, died on July 16, 2008, in West Chester, PA. Maxwell was preceded in death by his wife, Mamie, and his daughter, Lisa. He was survived by his son, Bruce, of West Chester, PA., his sister, Berenice, and her son, John Cross.
Image: Amanda Brown/The Star-Ledgers