Friday, November 8, 2013
Sidat-Singh was Syracuse's faux "Hindu" star
Watching Olbermann the other night I first heard the story of a remarkable collegiate athlete. He's now became the most recent subject for one of my custom football cards in the style of 1955 Topps All-American.
The player was Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, an African-American whom supporters of Syracuse University athletics -- if not actually the school itself -- attempted to "pass" as a "Hindu" during the racially segregated era of big-time collegiate sports in the late 1930s.
Ernie Davis and Jim Brown notwithstanding, many believe that Sidat-Singh was the finest all-round athlete to wear the orange of Syracuse.
Upon graduation he hustled to make a living in professional basketball with some of the best barnstorming teams in the pre-integration days of the National Basketball League.
When World War II depleted the ranks of the Washington, D.C. police, he joined the force. After enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps, in 1943 he earned his fighter pilot wings with the 332nd Fighter Group -- the Tuskegee Airmen. He died shortly thereafter when the engine failed on his P-40 fighter and crashed into Lake Huron.
There's no reason for me to attempt to present Sidat-Singh's biography here. Instead, let me link you to an article written in 2008 by Dave McKenna at WashingtonCityPaper.com. He's provided all you need to know about the former Syracuse star.