Charleston Daily Mail
January 17, 1959
Baylor More Concerned About Eating Place
Elgin Baylor seemed more concerned with his stomach than with a bed in a local hotel.
The star rookie of the Minneapolis Lakers refused to put on his uniform for the professional league game here last night against the Cincinnati Royals . . . That's why Cincinnati won the game, 95-92, before a crowd of 2,356 paid customers.
The big colored boy from Washington, D. C., who played at Seattle, was irritated over racial discrimination.
When Baylor wasn't admitted to a hotel with his teammates in Charlotte, N. C. in November, he was quoted by Rod Hundley as saying, "I'm no dog; if this ever happens again, I won't play."
Hundley, returning to his home town with the Lakers, tried in vain to persuade Baylor to play . . . right up until moments before the game last night in the Civic Center. Big "Elg" didn't argue about it, but wouldn't give in.
So far, all inferences blamed practic of local hotels in refusing admission of colored people, but Baylor talked with Daily Mail sports scribe Bill Smith at length and never mentioned the hotel situation.
Baylor seemed concerned with inability to eat in a "decent restaurant."
The 230-pound, 6-5 rookie with a 22.1 point average told Smith, "They sent me to a colored restaurant and it wasn't fit to eat in."
Laker Coach Had Been Informed
Baylor added that he bought some stuff in a grocery store which he ate in his room at Edna's Tourist Court on Lewis St. . . All the Lakers stayed at Edna's when they discovered that the three colored players - Baylor, Boo Ellis and Ed Fleming could not register.
Edna's place usually is patronized by colored people and is located only a block and a half from Charleston's biggest hotel, the Daniel Boone.
It is an unfortunate situation in which the promoters and sponsors are helpless . . They also should be blameless.
Civic Center "acting" manager Bill Bolden corresponded with Minneapolis coach John Kundla, advising him that the colored players would be cared for in another hotel . . . This was after Kundla had written Bolden asking to arrange for "the best possible accommodations." That was on Dec. 17.
Bolden has copies of wires sent to Kundla on Dec. 29 and Jan. 2 in which he explained that the colored players would be housed at another hotel . . Being as Kundla didn't reply to these wires, Bolden and the sponsoring American Business Club assumed the arrangement was satisfactory; at last, acceptable.
Bolden said he made arrangements at the Hotel Kanawha for cars to be ready to drive the colored boys to Edna's upon arrival of the Lakers . . . He said this was done at the suggestion of Gurnet (Cap) Ferguson, local Negro civic leader and a member of the Civic Center board.
Absence Cost Minneapolis The Game
When the Lakers arrived, Coach Kundla reportedly acted surprised and irritated because the three colored players couldn't register. He took the entire team to Edna's.
Even so, the Lakers didn't realize Baylor wouldn't play until they got to the Civic Center. One of the first men we saw in the lobby was Hundley. And one of his first remarks was, "You're going to see a good one in Baylor. 'Elg' is the best I ever saw."
But, after eating cold groceries in his room at the tourist court, Baylor stuck to words he uttered in Charlotte back in November.
While Baylor's absence certainly enabled the Royals to win their ninth NBA game against 32 defeats, it didn't hurt the crowd because the fans didn't know they wouldn't see the big rookie.
Nevertheless, Tom Corrie, chairman of the American Business Club's committee, was plainly irritated.
The frigid blast by the weather man certainly cost enough of a last-day sale to result in the loss of about $1,000.
Bolden was particularly irritated at Kundla, the Minneapolis coach, for not answering messages if the housing and eating situation were not acceptable.
Same Situation With Baseball Teams
Meanwhile, the Lakers lost their fifth straight game and certainly wouldn't have if Baylor had played . . . His colored teammates, Ellis and Fleming, participated to score 14 points combined.
Wayne Embry is the only colored player on the Cincinnati team which had no trouble with housing . . . Bolden said the Royals didn't require overnight rooms as they left after the game for New York.
Bolden said they did relax a couple of hours at the Daniel Boone in a room off the mezzanine and he understood they were served privately in the same room . . . "Anyhow," Bolden added, "I didn't hear any complaints from the Cincinnati team."
This is an unfortunate and ironic situation . . . A colored man (Jim Jarrett) is coach of Charleston High's basketball team on one hand . . . On the other, even the most talented colored people cannot get service at the city's leading hotels and eating establishments.
The same situation has prevailed the last eight or nine years in Charleston's professional baseball picture without major incident. Many of the Central League and Americian [sic] Assn. teams have been coming here with colored stars since 1949.
It's a social problem over which the promoters of the game had no control . . . And Hundley was right when he told Baylor in a last-minute plea, "If you don't play, we're gonna get beat."