Baylor's Refusal to Play Here Brings ABC Protest

By A. L. Hardman

Charleston Gazette-Mail
January 18, 1959

The American Business Club of Charleston, which dropped between $800 and $1,000 on the Minneapolis - Cincinnati professional basketball game Friday night at the Civic Center, Saturday filed a protest with the National Basketball Association over the failure of rookie star Elgin Baylor to appear in the Minneapolis lineup.

In a telegram to League President Maurice Podoloff in New York, ABC Promoter H. Thomas Corrie said:

"Urge disciplinary action against Elgin Baylor of Minneapolis club, who refused to play against Cincinnati here Friday night in protest of hotel segregation. Records show Minneapolis club was advised on Dec. 29 that segregation enforced at hotels. His absence from lineup most embarrassing to us and damaged our chances of promoting future NBA games here."

Baylor and the entire Minneapolis team spent Friday night at a Negro motel in Charleston after a mid- town hotel had refused to house three Negro players, including Baylor.

Despite pleas from his teammates, urging him to play, Baylor, former Seattle University star and a rookie in the NBA this year, declined to put on a uniform and sat on the Minneapolis beach in civilian clothes throughout the game. As a result, the Lakers dropped a 95-91 decision to the Royals before 2,356 fans who braved icy streets and near-zero weather to see the game.

"If they don't think any more of us than to let something like this happen, then maybe we shouldn't do business with the National Basketball Association again," Corrie said. "If Podoloff doesn't take action against Baylor, I think he at least owes us an apology because it was through him that the game was booked here."

Corrie said a complete audit of tickets had not been made as yet. But he said the game definitely was a losing venture, with the losses to be at least $800.

["]We'd like to have a chance to make up for our losses," he said, "but we can't do it with a professional game here unless we have some protection against such things as Baylor pulled on us. I still think pro ball will pay here and I'd like to see it tried again under more favorable conditions."

Rod Hundley, a Charleston boy who played with Minneapolis, and some of the other Lakers pleaded with Baylor to play. But he steadfastly refused. Most of the fans on hand for the game thought perhaps he was ill or injured and not until they learned otherwise did they express their feelings to the A.B.C.

The Minneapolis team left here for home Saturday morning shortly before noon. Back home it was announced that no punishment was planned for Baylor because he did not play.

But it must have been okay with his coach, Johnny Kundla, who did not press Baylor.

Kundla had been notified by wire, at his own request, about the segregation rules enforced at local hotels, according to Bill Bolden, acting manager of the Civic Center.

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