1988 Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame Inductee
Category: MULIIPLE SPORTS
Daughter: Marzella Thomas Smith
With World War II coming to an end blacks had begun to get an opportunity to gain entrance into many colleges to further their education. This opportunity was offered to many athletes throughout the country.
Jesse Thomas, a natural athlete in every sense of the word, was one of Flint’s first of many Blacks to take advantage of the opportunity.
Just to look at Jesse’s size, about 150 pounds when he was at Central High School, you would never think of him becoming such an outstanding athlete. At Central he participated in basketball, baseball, track and football.
According to Stan Broome Jesse is unquestionably the greatest four-sport star in the history of Flint Central.
In his high school days Jesse was known as a triple threat…run, pass and kick. Some of his outstanding achievements were: All-Valley, All-City and All-State in 1945. He was also City Athlete of the Year in 1945. In 1945 Jesse was State broad jump champion, and set records as best hurdler (14.9), and City Pole Vaulter (12’2″). In 1946 he was undefeated in 16 events, and had the most outstanding performance in the State meet.
Also voted second team All-Vailey basketball- 1946. He was an outstanding pitcher in baseball at Central and the Flint City League.
Not only was he a fine running back but his defense was something to behold. His great exploits continued at M.S.U. The late Biggie Munn was his coach, and in 1951 Jesse received Honorable Mention All-American.
In track he won four first places in a Big Ten Conference outdoor meet in 1951. That same year he won four first places in the Big Ten Conference indoor meet. He once ran a 9.6 in the 100 yard dash.
In a two month tour of Japan, he represented the United States Amateur Athletic Union and earned 33 medals. He bettered the hop-step-jump AAU record with his 47 feet 8 inches. Jesse played professional ball with the Baltimore Colts as a defensive back with Don Shula (Miami Dolphins coach), Carl Taseff and Bert Rechicher in 1955-1957.
Some of the highlights of Jesse’s 1945 school year.
Touchdowns run from scrimmage-95, 84, 70 and 90 yard touchdown through four tacklers and reversed his field, causing the opponents coach to remark “he wasn’t tired, can you believe it.”
Punt returns of 62 and 59 yards in the same game for touchdowns.
Passing for touchdowns of 40, 46, 53 and 60 yards.
Finished second in scoring in Saginaw Valley.
Thomas is an assistant professor at Morgan State University. and lives in suburban Baltimore, Maryland.