Fritz Pollard Day – Oct 1 – Who is Fritz?

Fritz Pollard Day – Oct 1 – Who is Fritz?


For Students

Please complete this Google Form. This does NOT guarantee you a ticket, but by filling out the form you will be on the list to purchase a ticket. Tickets are $5 CASH only and will be sold to the students next week in front of the cafeteria at Stairwell 1Z. You can purchase your ticket starting Thursday & Friday during lunch periods and after school.

For Alumni, Parents and Community

Tickets for the pregame ceremony and football game are available for $5.50 at this link.

Attendees will be able to pick up tickets at 10:30am on game day at our will-call tent situated at the southeast entrance to the stadium (near the Driver’s Ed range).  You will need an id to secure your pre-sale tickets.  The availability of tickets for walk-up fans on the day of the game is questionable and will be based on the pace of advanced ticket sales. Feel free to check status with the LTAA office.

We are currently less than halfway to our fundraising goal for this community-building project. Please consider making a donation to the Fritz Pollard Day & Dedication Ceremony at

Donors making a gift of $250 or more will receive a limited-edition, commemorative baseball hat. Fritz Pollard | American football player and coach | Britannica

Why Fritz Pollard

As Fritz Pollard Day and the dedication of the field in Lane Stadium approaches, it is only appropriate that we do a deeper dive into the life and accomplishments of our honoree.

Frederick Douglass “Fritz” Pollard was the seventh of eight children born to John and Catherine Amanda Hughes Pollard, the first Black family to settle in Rogers Park in 1886, having moved there from Missouri to afford their family more safety and better opportunities. Both parents were successful entrepreneurs. John Pollard, a free African American from Virginia and Civil War veteran, owned a barbershop in Evanston, and Amanda, a woman of Black, Sioux, and French descent ran a thriving alterations business with clients like Marshall Field’s.

Education was a priority in the Pollard family and expectations were high.  Eldest daughter, Artissmisia graduated from Brown University and was the first Black registered nurse in Illinois, while sister Naomi was the first Black female graduate of Northwestern University. Luther was a film producer and later, an advertising executive Hughes was a well-known jazz musician and Leslie was a star athlete who played football at Dartmouth and ultimately became a coach and sportswriter.

It was Leslie, who coached his younger brother Fritz to become a three-sport elite athlete at Lane Tech. Fritz excelled as a running back in football, shortstop in baseball, and all-around track and field standout.  A 1912 meet records Fritz taking first in hurdles, second in the half-mile and third in high jump, while winning “County” three times. His classmates compared him to Mercury, the fleet-footed messenger of the ancient gods, but he still faced racism at and around Lane.  In a 1983 interview, Pollard recalled missing the train to a game, only to find out that the coach had the entire team take an earlier train to keep Fritz at bay and avoid having to tell him that the opposing team refused to play against a Black athlete.

Fritz Pollard went on to play football for Brown University where he was known as the “Human Torpedo.” Playing halfback, in 1916 he almost single-haedly beat both Yale and Harvard in the same week, scoring 6 touchdowns and running for more than 540 yards, and yet when he took the field, spectators frequently sang “Bye, Bye, Blackbird.” Despite racist barriers, Pollard was the first Black athlete to compete in the Rose Bowl in 1916 and to make the All-American team.

In 1919, (the year Jackie Robinson was born), Pollard signed with the Akron Pros of the American Professional Football Association, which later became the NFL. In 1920 he led The Pros to the first national championship in the history of professional football. Although he was among the highest paid athletes of any color and the most feared running back in the league, he had to change into his uniform in the owner’s cigar store, and forego team warmups so he could enter the field right at kick-off avoiding any violence from spectators. He was the first Black player-coach in the league, and the first Black head coach with the Hammond Pros in 1924.  It would be 63 years before another Black head coach was hired by an NFL franchise.

When Black athletes were unceremoniously eliminated from the league, (1926-1946), Pollard established all-Black barnstorming teams that played throughout the country.  He also founded the New York Independent News, a talent agency, a tax-consultancy, investment firm and a coal delivery company.  As a talent agent his client roster included Paul Robeson and Lena Horne, and he invented “soundies” which were an early version of music videos.

He was the first Black alumnus to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954 and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame posthumously in 2005.  The Fritz Pollard Alliance, an organization established to advocate for more BIPOC head coaches and front office personnel in the NFL, bears Pollard’s name in honor of his personal achievements and advocacy.

Steven Towns, right, stands next to the bust of Fritz Pollard, former pro football player and first African-American pro football head coach, with Pollard’s grandson Fritz Pollard III, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2005 at Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

A man of many “firsts,” Fritz Pollard lived out the Lane Tech motto, “Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember the honor of Lane.” and it is our privilege to honor him on October 1, 2022.

Come out and celebrate!