Frank 'Strangler' Forbes

Frank 'Strangler' Forbes.

I’ll betchu a new pair of Uptowns that I can connect any modern day athlete or event to black basketball and African American sports pioneer Frank “Strangler” Forbes.

Remember that silly movie trivia game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? This is the same thing.

Let’s do an example.

What’s that you say? The Harvard-Yale football game on Saturday? That annual traditional rivalry dating back to 1875?

I gotchu in 2 degrees!

  1. Harvard and Yale are in the Ivy League;
  2. In 1938, the Ivy League (affiliated with the old Eastern Intercollegiate Association) named its first black football referee, Frank “Strangler” Forbes.

Done! That was easy!

By the way, both Harvard and Yale go into Saturday’s game undefeated in league play, and Yale has an African American running back named Mike McLeod who is stomping on previously untouchable Yale and Ivy League rushing records and has National Football League talent. You need to check him out, plus my man is from Connecticut so we give him props just for that.

Frank Forbes headline

Forbes' appointment in 1938 made headlines in black newspapers.

Let’s do another one.

Who? Barry Bonds? You mean the guy they are going after now, when instead they ought to be subpoenaing Major League Baseball internal emails discussing how the league encouraged and ignored performance enhancing drug usage in order to restore itself? That guy?

This one’s easy and I gotchu in 3 degrees!

  1. Barry Bonds’ godfather is Willie Mays;
  2. Willie Mays played for the New York Giants;
  3. The New York Giants employed Frank “Strangler” Forbes as a scout and as a semi-official guardian for Willie Mays in the early 1950s.


Let’s do one from basketball.

How about Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat?

I gotchu in 4 degrees!

  1. Wade is under contract with Converse, the sneaker company;
  2. Converse signed former New York Rens basketball star John Isaacs to a contract as a basketball history technical adviser;
  3. Isaacs played for Rens team founder and owner Robert “Bob” Douglas;
  4. Douglas signed Frank “Strangler” Forbes to play for the very first Rens team in 1923.

Done! That was easy!

I’ll write more on Forbes, including how he got his nickname, some other time!

Now it’s your turn! Think you can get me? Try it and see! (You won’t have to bring me any Uptowns if you lose!)