Joe Vann Durham, a former Negro Leagues player from Newport News who was the first athlete from the Peninsula to sign a "big-league" baseball contract, will be inducted into the Hampton Roads African American Sports Hall of Fame.
Durham began his pro baseball career in 1952 with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League. The St. Louis Browns signed him in 1953 and assigned him to the York (Pa.) White Roses of the Piedmont League. Durham helped to break the color line in a league with teams in the then-segregated states of Maryland and Virginia. He had a productive year despite enduring poor living conditions and racial slurs.
Durham led the Huntington High Vikings to the 1948-1949 Eastern District basketball championship. Durham was named the tournament's outstanding player and made the all-district team.
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