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Original Issue

What They Think Now

Yesterday's stars, members of that elite group that made it to the top, can look at the life of the Negro athlete from a rare perspective—they have both height and hindsight. Here is what 10 of them are doing today, and some of the differing views they now hold


A UCLA All-America and NBA star, Naulls is a tough and prospering businessman in the Los Angeles ghetto of Watts. He owns a Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise there and is working on a major venture—construction of a four-acre shopping center. "I always wanted to work in Watts, to help Watts come hack." says Naulls.

His athletic fame has offered impetus to his new career—people in Los Angeles will listen to him—but Naulls is unsmiling about the realities of being a black man in the business world. "Athletics opens doors, but you're in trouble if you depend on those open doors alone," he says. "I know some people don't like me—just because of my color. I expect to have trouble obtaining loans. I'm never confident of anything until it's in writing. But I don't want handouts. That's not my bag at all. Just equality."

As the American League's first Negro, Doby, 43, hoped for much from baseball. He wanted to be a major league coach but he received no offers of any kind from baseball, and he is now a John Hancock insurance salesman in New Jersey. "As a career, baseball is different for the white; it's a chance to make important contacts," he says. "When his major league career is over, a white player will have a $20,000 job waiting. The black man will have to hustle. That's why a chance to coach and to stay in baseball is so important. They say we aren't qualified. How do they know?" Doby thinks that organized baseball considers itself safe from serious criticism or attack. "But these new black athletes aren't going to sit back and wait," he says. "And wouldn't it be a shame if baseball waited until the ball park is burned down before it stepped in and did things right?"

For 12 years with San Francisco, Detroit and Pittsburgh, he was the epitome of the powerhouse fullback, but Johnson was always conscious of his second-class citizenship. "You don't get the endorsements, advertisements and job preferences like white athletes do," he says. "I love football and I had aspirations to coach, but I couldn't get a job. I know lots of players are hired as coaches right alter they retire, but the Steelers told me I needed experience. After 18 years of football? How could they have the audacity to say this?" Johnson, 38, is now a public-relations man with Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania Inc., and most of his time is spent with deprived youngsters from Pittsburgh ghettos. "Athletes should use their position to help less fortunate Negroes," he says. "The activist stand taken by some athletes today requires a lot of fortitude. They're making a great sacrifice if they boycott the Olympics. They have a right to that protest; I'm not sure what I would do."

Immensely ambitious, Dukes at 38 has used his basketball background (Seton Hall and the NBA) to finance an excellent education and a far-ranging travel agency that is now the hub of a prosperous system of Dukes-owned corporations dealing in everything from real estate to negotiations for a Munich franchise in a new Euro-Asian basketball league. "The best way for a black man to succeed is through sport," says Dukes. "Sport makes the black acceptable, and he has to take it from there. It is the springboard to white society. It allows the black a chance to lose himself in white affluence." But the change does not come easily. Despite his degrees and sports fame, no major companies offered Dukes an adequate job. "That moved me to strike out on my own," he says. "If I'd been born white, by now I'd be a millionaire. Sport used me and, yes, I used sport."

Few boxers have been as graceful as this lightweight champion of the late '40s, and to aging Jimmy Carter, 44, those long-ago glories have not been tarnished by time. Not at all. "People still look up to an ex-champion," he says. "If he keeps himself together and does the right things, they'll remember him. I still get requests for autographed pictures from all over the world." Carter's job now is grooming poodles at a Beverly Hills pet shop. "Most fighters are awfully tough and pretty smart in the ring," says Carter, "but not too smart outside. We're softhearted. We're not very hep on business matters. People take advantage of us. But the world's not been unfair to me." No militant, he is opposed to the black nationalists: "I believe the Communists have brainwashed some of those people."

The Philadelphia-based firm of Wes Covington Enterprises Inc. has real-estate holdings in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida, and an affiliated corporation, Diamond Maintenance Janitorial Service Inc., is one of Philadelphia's largest custodial services companies. Now an employer of 40 people, the 36-year-old former outfielder for the Braves and Phillies sees his corporate activities as something more than a mere profit-and-loss operation. 'When I founded my companies," he says, "I thought maybe I could do something for mankind by starting something where I could employ people. It's one of the greatest challenges to set a man who's a borderline case and show him a better way. I'm not running a Negro company or a black company. I'm running a company that will meet the conditions of today." And, in turn, he feels baseball has been very unfair by not hiring Negroes for nonplaying jobs.

The former heavyweight champion, now 54, is a city juvenile-affairs official in Camden, N.J., and he makes no secret of his gratitude toward boxing. "It was exceptionally good to me. Where else could a guy who quit school at 14 get into a position where he meets four Presidents and the Pope?" But he feels that boxing has its double standard. "If I'd been a white tighter, I'd have been far more successful financially," Says Walcott. "I can't even estimate the material loss I suffered from being a black man." Walcott is no militant, but neither is he opposed to the activists. "We must each choose our own way, but we're trying to get to the same place," he says. "We're trying to make people understand that the black athlete is not just an athlete but that he is a human being as well."

After 52 years of making his living in baseball, Paige is otherwise employed. He is a process server in Jackson County, Mo. and is running for the state legislature as a Democrat. Perhaps no black athlete suffered greater deprivation due to prejudice than this peerless pitcher, who was not allowed into the majors until a decade or—even two—past his prime. "When I finally got to Cleveland," he says, "I was able to make a few nickels. Outside that, what I've made out of baseball has just been ham-and-egg money. Nobody threw a taster ball than I did. Imagine if I'd gone to the Indians in the '30s." Still, Paige—who campaigns in his old Cleveland uniform—retains his devotion to the game. "Whatever bouquets rest on my shoulders were put there by baseball," he says.

One of the National League's finest relief pitchers 15 years ago, Black held a college degree from Morgan State and was considered a man of sound intelligence. But when he retired in 1957, baseball's front offices were closed to him. His only profitable opportunity came from a liquor distillery, but the firm insisted that Black, a teetotaler, must start drinking. Instead, he became a $4,200-a-year teacher. Things are better now: he is a vice-president for Greyhound Lines, Inc. in Chicago—a job he says he got largely because of his baseball fame. But he sees plenty of exploitation of blacks in baseball. "Salarywise, the Negro has been taken advantage of. Many times he is paid from $15,000 to $20,000 when he should be getting $45,000. The power structure always says, 'You're making an excellent salary in comparison to the black community.' Sure, black athletes were given opportunities, but they used to be denied the right of dissent. They were forced to accept the status quo. Now black athletes are telling the sports world that those yesterdays are gone."

Once the overpowering right arm of the Dodgers, Newcombe has been out of baseball for six years—some of them bleak. He went bankrupt in 1966, losing $150,000 when a Newark business failed because, as he puts it, "My own black people didn't support me." His troubles have eased recently, and he is now a divisional marketing manager in Los Angeles for Northern Systems Co., a subsidiary of Northern Natural Gas Co. Newcombe specializes in the improvement of ways of training the hardcore unemployed. Though baseball did not offer Newcombe a job, "There's no doubt that it provided a lot of entrées for me," he says. "The world owes me nothing more than what I willingly give it. Put junk into a computer and you get junk back as an answer. It's the same with life."