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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

January 20, 2009 at 9:03 PM

Tuesday night notes — An Inauguration Day question

No matter your politics, today is an historic one in American history.
And it caused one reader to ask me “who was the first African-American football player in UW’s history?” The reader thought it a timely question for today, so I figured I’d do some quick research and pass it along tonight.
For whatever reason, it’s not a topic that’s been written a lot about through the years.
The only source I could find of all the Husky-football-related material I have that addresses the issue is the book “100 Years of Husky Football” written in 1990.
It reports that the first two black players were Hamilton “Ham” Green, a halfback who lettered in 1921, and Johnny Prim, a halfback who played in the 1920 season. It doesn’t say whether Green was also on the 1920 team and simply didn’t letter or whatever, so I don’t know if one is regarded as having played before the other, or if it’s unknown.
There’s little info available on Green. The media guide simply lists his name and the year he lettered, with no hometown (as is the case for a number of players from the early days). The “100 Years” book states that Green’s claim to fame was blocking a punt that led to UW’s only points in what remains the worst loss in school history, a 72-3 loss to Cal in 1921.
Since Prim didn’t letter, there’s no mention of him in the UW media guide.
However, a quick Google search turned up this bio of Prim, who went on to become the first African-American to serve as deputy prosecuting attorney for King County as well as the first African-American judge in the state of Washington. (Frankly, sounds like someone we should all know a lot more about). This bio states he played in the 1920 Dartmouth game, the first game in the history of Husky Stadium, and that he also lettered in baseball at UW.
If you’re curious, there had been a number of black players in college football by that point, as this chart details.
ALSO. …
— A few of you also sent me this from ESPN.com today as the site lists UW’s football 17th in its rating of the most prestigious programs in college football history.

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