Lenny
Hall


LENNY HALL played basketball for Camden High School, and was a member of the Tony Alfano-coached 1959 and 1960 teams that went undefeated. His teammates included Ron "Itchy" Smith and Golden Sunkett. After high school he went to Florida State University, but his basketball career was cut short by injury. 

Lenny Hall returned to Camden and played basketball locally. He joined the Camden Police Department in 1969 where he made his career, retiring in 1996.

Lenny Hall passed away at the age of 70 on March 12, 2014.


Trenton Evening Times - March 12, 1961
Lenny Hall - Charlie Maddox- Dave Wharton - Steve Schley - Wilson Pitts
Myron Fegley

1966-1967 Florida State University Basketball Team 

Front Row, Left to Right: Bob Comparto, Rick Campbell, Don Hilsmier, Lenny Hall, Brian Murphy, Jeff Hogan, Darrel Stewart, Ian Morrison, Russ Forkey
Second Row: Coach Bill Clendinen, Mike Primavera, Steve Summers, Bill Glenn, Don Biggs, Dick Danford, Ken Doyle, Dave Ross, Jim Geller, Head Coach Hugh Durhamn


1966-1967 Florida State University Basketball Team 

Back Row, Left to Right: Ian Morrison, Darrel Stewart, Brian Murphy, Jeff Hogan, Lenny Hall * Middle: Bill Glenn, Dave Ross, Don Biggs, Dick Danford, Ken Doyle, Russ Forkey, Don Hilsmier * Front: Head Coach Hugh Durham, Coach Bill Clendinen


Trenton Evening Times - November 28, 1986
...continued...

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 28, 1992
Camden Officer's Son Charged With Homicide
The Father Has Fought Hard Against Violence On The Street. Now His Son, 19, Is Held In A Shooting.

By Peter Finn and Dwight Ott

Among the street youths and drug gangs of Camden, Police Officer Lenny Hall is one of the few figures from that other world of law and order who commands fear and respect.

The popular, well-known cop from the Camden Youth Task Force has worked tirelessly to tame the city's gang violence and drug dealing. Hall and three other officers practically live on the streets, bantering with straight youths as well as those who deal in drugs and death.

Their goal, they said last year, was to point to a better way and stop trouble before it begins.

But investigators said Hall's reach was not enough to keep his own son, Adrian, 19, from brushes with the law. Adrian was charged with homicide Thursday.

Adrian Hall got into an argument over a drug transaction at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday outside the Beacon Place Apartments, on Sheridan Street, with Robert Scarborough, 28, of Camden, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said.

Hall is accused of fatally shooting Scarborough in the back during the dispute. Prosecutors said one of a number of eyewitnesses had identified Hall.

Hall, of the 1400 block of Van Hook Street, was arrested Wednesday evening and charged with homicide Thursday. He was being held in Camden County Jail pending a bail hearing.

His father declined yesterday to discuss his son's arrest, but it has saddened the Camden Police Department.

"It's a shame," said an officer, who asked not to be identified. "These officers spend so much time trying to help other people's kids."

Adrian Hall, a 1991 Camden High School graduate, was a standout half-back with the school's football team.

His only other reported brush with trouble came three years ago.

In 1989 at Camden High School, a 10th grader pulled a .22-caliber revolver in a crowded hallway and fired a shot at Adrian Hall in a dispute over a girl. Hall was not injured.

According to a police report at the time, Adrian Hall told the armed youth to leave his girlfriend alone and a fight ensued. A teacher broke it up and told the two to go their separate ways. Hall went to the third floor, but the other youth followed. The shot was fired during a second confrontation.


Florida State University Report To Boosters - June 2006

Garnet & Old: Four Minutes That Changed History

By Jim Joanos

Lenny Hall shot twice and made two baskets. He also collected two rebounds. It happened in less than four minutes. Then, Hall came down hard and twisted his knee, forcing him to leave the game. Shortly, thereafter, he re-entered the game and tried to play but the knee would not support him. He fell and his career as an FSU basketball player had ended. It would later be determined that there was cartilage damage.

Brief as they were, those few minutes changed athletics at Florida State forever. In those minutes, Lenny Hall and FSU had penetrated a major barrier. Those moments, despite the controversy surrounding them, or, perhaps, because of the controversy that surrounded them, are among the "shiniest" in FSU sports history. In those few minutes, Hall had become the first African American to play varsity basketball at Florida State and among the very first at a predominantly white university in the Deep South. Some believe that he was the first. In today’s world, it may not seem like much. It was huge. When December comes around this year, it will be 40 years since that game took place.

The event took place in FSU’s season-opening game against Valdosta State in old Tully Gym on the first day of December of 1966. Ironically, FSU won the game by four points (62-58), the same number that Lenny Hall had scored in those first four minutes of the game. Incidentally, on that very same day, Bill Jones, a University of Maryland basketball player became the first African American to play for an Atlantic Coast Conference basketball team when he played against Penn State. A season later, on December 2, 1967, Perry Wallace would play at Vanderbilt and become the first black player to play in a Southeastern Conference varsity basketball game.

That 1966 game against Valdosta State was remarkable for another reason. It was the first game in which Hugh Durham served FSU as its head coach. Durham had played at FSU in the late fifties and had followed that up by becoming head coach J.K. "Bud" Kennedy’s top assistant for nine years.

While it was Kennedy, as head coach, who had signed Hall, Durham had also been strongly involved in the recruitment. It would be under Durham that Hall would play at FSU. Shortly following the recruitment of Hall, Kennedy was diagnosed with cancer and not long thereafter passed away. Durham was selected to move up and become FSU’s head basketball coach.

Under Durham, FSU greatly increased its efforts to recruit and play black athletes. It proved to be of major importance in the rise of FSU basketball. The 1971-72 team, which featured an all black starting five, reached the highest level ever achieved so far by an FSU basketball team. That team finished as the runner-up to UCLA, the national champions that season.

In a column written following that 1971-72 season, famed Tallahassee Democrat sports writer, Bill McGrotha, attributed FSU’s success to Durham’s willingness and ability to recruit black players. He described Durham as having "no personal hang-ups on the color of basketball players, be they red, yellow, white, black or any shade of the rainbow." He further wrote that Durham "does have a hangup about basketball talent."

McGrotha further analyzed that Durham’s reasons for pursuing black athletes were that: "Because almost all of the more talented white players were going to more prestigious basketball schools, because there was little chance from the beginning that Florida State could corral enough of those for an exceptional program, because there were a great many talented black players available and many other schools were shying away from them for a variety of reasons and Florida State, therefore, had a far better opportunity to recruit top blacks than top whites."

A native of New Jersey

Leonard R. Hall grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and went to Camden High School from 1958 to 1961. An excellent high school basketball and baseball player, he made the New Jersey state tournament all star team in basketball his senior year and also attained all star status in baseball. He then attended Temple University Preparatory School and Virginia Union for a year, studying biology education before later coming to Florida and enrolling at St. Petersburg Junior College where he starred on the basketball court.

At St. Petersburg J.C., he was selected as an All American Junior College player at the end of the 1965-66 season. As a result, he got a lot of attention from recruiters of a number of major basketball programs. Although the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in the Brown case was more than a decade old and predominantly white Southern colleges were beginning to admit small numbers of black students, there were still very few athletic scholarships being made available to black athletes at those institutions. Fortunately, at Florida State, the head basketball coach, Bud Kennedy, with the strong support of assistant, Hugh Durham, decided that it was time to set aside the barrier that existed and recruit Hall.

Hall’s recruitment caused something of a stir in the State of Florida, but the coaches’ courage prevailed and Kennedy signed Hall to a grant-in-aid. Hall recently described his recruitment by FSU "as a very positive situation" and that before deciding to go to FSU he was "leaning toward Drake University, Villanova, and Southern Cal." He states that at "the time my goal was to achieve something for the City of Saint Pete, and the Gibbs Campus community all of which showed me great admiration as a person."

He said that he never doubted his ability to play for FSU "because of the experience that he had playing in the Camden-Philly area." He further points out that his experience playing for the St. Petersburg area "Johnny’s Cleaners Team" had provided him with "more games against good competition."

Thus, Hall describes his recruitment and signing by FSU in positive terms, focusing more on the question of his ability to play at that level rather than the issue of his breaking the color barrier. However, elsewhere, there was, a great deal of controversy about the signing. Coach Kennedy got death threats and nasty letters. Both Kennedy and Durham lost friends in the Tallahassee community over it. There was public criticism over the action. As an example, a Jacksonville lawyer wrote to the President of FSU with copies to the governor and the chairman of the Florida Board of Control declaring that he "was shocked to read...that Coach Kennedy of the Florida State Basketball Team has given an athletic scholarship to a Negro to play basketball on Florida State Team."

In addition, he included statements such as that "a mixed blood race" is detrimental "to the races involved" and that he did not believe that "thinking people, either white or colored, want racial intermarriage in this country." He concluded with the request that due "to this ill-advised action on the part of Coach Kennedy his services as Head Coach of Basketball at Florida State University should be terminated."

A very positive person

Hall arrived in Tallahassee in the Fall of 1966 and reported to the basketball team. While the town and state were somewhat abuzz over Hall’s recruitment, on campus, Hall was treated pretty much the same as other students. A teammate, Bill Glenn, who started at the other forward spot with Hall in the Valdosta State game, speaks of how much "fun" it was to "ride around campus with Lenny and visit with other students." Glenn says that there was "no team resentment whatever" and as "far as I know none elsewhere on campus."

Glenn, now serves as the Chief Federal Bankruptcy Judge in the middle area of Florida. Glenn ended up that 1966-67 season as the team’s high point scorer. He describes Hall as "a positive guy...real friendly." He adds that Hall was the kind of person that became "your best friend as soon as you meet him."

Hall, with his outward personality made friends easily. He developed an especially close bond with the other African American students on campus. There was only a handful of them at the time. One of his closest friends became John Marks.

Marks , a successful attorney, has been Tallahassee’s mayor for the last few years. Among the endeavors that Hall participated in along with Marks and seven other black male students was to organize and have chartered a chapter of the Omega Psi Phi social fraternity on campus. It was FSU’s first chapter of a predominantly black social fraternity and very well might have been the first one on any of the formerly all white campuses in the Southeast. Marks describes Hall as being "one of the most effervescent people I have known."

"Nothing you could say would upset him...just a great guy to be around...a great, great individual," Marks said.

Hall and Marks have remained good friends through the years. When Hall last came to Tallahassee twenty or so years ago, they visited and reminisced about old times.

Hall appreciated the talents of other players. Marks tells the story about how "one day, Lenny came back from basketball practice raving about this big red-headed white guy from Kentucky and said that we would not believe how this guy can play."

He was, of course, talking about Dave Cowens, who had been recruited the same time as Hall and entered FSU at the same time. The two became friends although they could not be teammates on the varsity as Cowens, because of his freshman status, was required under the rules in place at the time to play on the freshman team for his first year. Throughout the years since, Hall has followed Cowens' career with great interest and has kept in contact with the Hall of Famer. In recent times, they communicate through the Internet. Hall has also followed Coach Durham’s storied career and also communicates with him from time to time.

Back to New Jersey

After sustaining the knee injury that ended his FSU career, Hall returned to New Jersey. He reports that the rehabilitation of the knee was a "serious" matter. The knee got better and in July of 1967 he began to play in summer professional basketball league, the Philadelphia Baker League. Hall became employed as an inspector for the Camden City Health Department from 1967 to 1969. In connection with his work, he took some courses at the Rutgers University, New Brunswick branch, in the school of environmental science.

In 1969, with the assistance of former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, "Jersey Joe" Walcott, Hall was able to join the Camden Police Department. Walcott, a community relations officer with the police department at the time, put in a good word for him. Walcott happened to be the uncle of Hall’s FSU roommate and best friend, Nicky Harris. Hall spent twenty-nine years with the police department until he retired in 1997. Much of the time he served as a senior investigator in regard to juveniles and youth gangs. He participated in numerous training programs regarding subjects such as community relations, drugs and alcohol, homicide, and gang awareness. He received many honors as a police officer and served on a number of task forces.

After retiring from the police department, Hall served as chief of security for the New Jersey State Aquarium for two years, and for three years as a homeless coordinator for the Center for Family Service in Camden.

Hall, continues to be recognized for the contributions that he has made to his community through the years. He is especially proud of having been inducted into the South New Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and in being designated and honored by the Camden police officers in 1995 as one of their "Living Legends".Hall and wife, Sandra, have been married since 1977. He has six children: Charlotte, Randi, Makin, Janeen, Adrian, and Leonard, Jr., as well as seven grandchildren. Hall spends time enjoying his grandchildren and says that they "are geared to go further in life by getting plenty of advanced education." He also takes interests in other members of his family. He notes that when Notre Dame beat FSU several years ago that "the defensive end Ryan Roberts who had a few sacks is one of my great nephews."

That positive spirit continues

Hall suffered from a pituitary brain tumor in 2002 which left him blind in one eye and vision somewhat diminished in the other. He has also had a knee replaced. However, nothing has dimmed his spirit. When talking to him over the phone you get the feeling that he is just as enthusiastic and optimistic as ever. He has good feelings about his experiences at FSU and says that his "memories are pleasant."

His last visit to Tallahassee came in the 1980’s when he attended an FSU basketball reunion. He states that he is most appreciative of the "warm crowd of people who came into my life" which include "team members, fraternity brothers, Mayor John Marks and his family and the citizens of Tallahassee."

There are not too many people who have done more for Florida State than what Lenny Hall did when he scored four points in those four minutes in that game 40 years ago.



Camden Courier-Post * February 7, 2007

Camden grad Hall made history at Florida State

  By KEVIN CALLAHAN

Forty years after playing for Florida State University, former Camden High School star Lenny Hall received his Seminoles letterman jacket.

"They had one made up, just like the ones in 1966, it had the leather sleeves," said Hall, a retired Camden police officer. "It was great."

Hall, 63, received the letterman jacket during a ceremony in Tallahassee to honor him on Jan. 20 during a Seminoles' basketball game at the Civic Center. Hall was the first black player at Florida State.

"They were doing the Tomahawk cheer and I was leading the crowd doing the Tomahawk," Hall said, laughing. "Leaving the court, there were 12,000 people yelling, "Lenny, Lenny.'

"It was unreal."

So was Hall's basketball career at Florida State.

Actually, his playing career was more surreal since he only played four minutes of his first game. Then, a knee injury ended his playing days at FSU.

But Hall was remembered by Florida State at halftime, when the Seminoles beat Miami 86-67, for who he was and not what he did.

Hall, who lives in Camden, is believed to be the first black player to compete in college basketball in the Deep South at a predominately white school.

Hall, a graduate in 1961 from Camden where he also played baseball and ran cross country, is proud of the social significance of playing for the Seminoles.

"Especially with this being black history month," Hall said.

Hall played on one of South Jersey's all-time great teams at Camden. He was a sophomore and junior coming off the bench for the 1959 and 1960 undefeated team led by Ron "Itchy" Smith and Golden "Sonny" Sunkett. He started as a senior the next year for coach Tony Alfano and helped to extend the winning streak to 51 before losing to Farrell (Pa.).

Hall, who was inducted into the Al Carino South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, originally attended the all-black Gibbs campus at St. Petersburg Junior College. He was then recruited by FSU head coach Bud Kennedy. Then, he made history.

"It meant a whole lot to me. It still does," said Hall, who worked from 1969 to 1996 for the Camden police department, about being the first black player at FSU during racial tensions in America. "The people at Florida State were so warm to me. If anything bad was happening, it was outside of the campus."

The 6-foot-5 Hall was recruited along with future Boston Celtics great Dave Cowens.

"I still stay in touch with Dave," Hall said. "I followed his whole career."

Hall's collegiate career was limited to two quick baskets and a couple of rebounds before he tore ligaments in his left knee.

"I played about four minutes," Hall said.

Four minutes, but 40 years of impact.

"My former coach was there (Hugh Durham, who replaced Kennedy, who died of cancer before the season), probably about half of my teammates," Hall said about the ceremony. "The president of Florida State (T.K. Wetherell) was there and so was the Tallahassee Mayor (John Marks). It was real nice."

Hall tried to rehabilitate his knee to play again. He eventually came back to Camden after his junior year at Florida State to pursue a pro career. He played in the famed Baker League in Philadelphia the same year that Earl Monroe was a rookie, but the reconstructed knee couldn't do what it used to do.

So he took a job with the Health Department in Camden before joining the Police Department in 1969.

Hall doesn't look back on his basketball career and wonder what might have happened without the knee injury.

"I just moved on," he said.

Hall recently endured another physical setback. In 2002, a pituitary tumor caused him to lose complete vision in his left eye and half the vision in his right eye.

"I can't drive anymore," Hall said with a chuckle. "I just move on."


Tallahassee Democrat - March 12, 2014

FSU men's basketball: Pioneer Hall passes away
Camden, N.J., native was first black player for FSU basketball

Lenny Hall played one men’s basketball game at Florida State. He played four minutes.

But those four minutes in December 1966 changed athletics at FSU and in the Deep South forever.

Hall, FSU’s first black player and believed to be among the first at a predominately white university in the Deep South, died early Wednesday morning due to respiratory failure.

The Camden, N.J., native was 70.

Sandra Hall, Lenny’s wife of 38 years, told The Tallahassee Democrat in a telephone interview from Camden, N.J., on Wednesday that her husband was proud that he helped tear down racial barriers as FSU’s first black player.

“He was not only proud of that, and he tried to encourage the

Lenny Hall received an FSU letterman's jacket during
a pre-game ceremony in 2007.

kids today that they could make history also,” Sandra said.

“He always talked and encouraged children. There are quite a few young men in the city of Camden who know all about him, they love him, it has been an outpouring of accolades.”

Hall started for the Seminoles and first-year coach Hugh Durham against Valdosta State on Dec. 1, 1966.

Hall, a 6-foot-4 junior forward and transfer from St. Petersburg Junior College, scored two quick baskets and grabbed two rebounds.

However, Hall tore ligaments in his left knee in the game’s opening minutes and left the game. He later re-entered the game but was unable to continue.

"I slipped on something on the floor," Hall told the Tallahassee Democrat in 2007, when he was presented a letterman’s jacket prior to the Seminoles’ game against Miami at the Civic Center.

"It was over. I didn't last another 30 seconds."

Hall underwent reconstructive knee surgery that ended his college career.

Hall returned to Camden, N.J., and joined the city’s police department in 1969.

He worked 29 years with the department, serving much of the time as a senior investigator and working with juveniles and youth gangs. He retired in 1997.

Former FSU basketball guard Terrell Baker (1997-99), who was raised in Lawnside, N.J., a 20-minute drive from Camden, said he knew of Hall, the policeman, as a youth.

Baker later learned of Hall’s connection to FSU and the significance of his career following his own playing days at FSU in the late ’90s.

“He was the kind of guy who would take you off the (street) corner and took you to your mom,” Baker said.

“There was a certain amount of respect he had. He changed a lot of peoples’ lives and did so much for the (Camden) community. When it hit me that he played at Florida State, and I started doing the research and finding out the significance, it make me follow and keep up with him. That made him part of who he was.”

Back on the FSU campus for the first time in 22 years, Hall received his letterman’s jacket in a 2007 pregame ceremony that included FSU President T.K. Wetherell, athletic director Dave Hart and Tallahassee Mayor John Marks. FSU also retired his jersey.

“I was so impressed with what the people thought of him,” Sandra Hall recalled. “It was just the love that they all had for him.”

The students chanted his name as Hall waved to the crowd and appeared to fight back tears. Hugh Durham's No. 25 jersey was honored at halftime.

"I see a lot of people that I really, really love and appreciate like Hugh Durham and some of my teammates," Hall told the Tallahassee Democrat before the game.

Hall said he was encouraged to continue his playing career at FSU when he was on the all-black Gibbs campus at St. Petersburg Junior College. He was recruited by FSU coach Bud Kennedy, who was diagnosed with cancer and was replaced by Durham, his top assistant.

Hall also said he was accepted at FSU. He wore jersey No. 14.

"I wasn't thinking about being black or anything like that," said Hall, who was recruited to FSU along with future Boston Celtics great Dave Cowens.

"But I wanted to do something for the people in that community because they did so much for me."

Before departing for the ACC Tournament on Tuesday afternoon, the FSU men’s basketball team sent Hall flowers, a jersey with his name on it, a poster with the players’ signatures, and other Seminole gear such as a hat and T-shirts.

“We tried to send him some stuff to cheer him up,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I knew he had been sick.”

Hamilton credited Hall, Durham and FSU for helping set history.

“I think it’s very difficult for people to really understand the significance behind the fact that he was the first to break that color barrier. It says an awful lot about Florida State, the administration, Hugh Durham as the coach and Lenny Hall, as well as his family,” Hamilton said.

“I’m sure that Lenny opened the doors not only for people in the basketball world, but he represented a movement that would open up doors for many people in many other areas because of the exposure that he gave to integration during an era where that was not the most popular thing to do.”

Hall played on one of South Jersey's all-time great teams at Camden.

He was a sophomore and junior coming off the bench for the 1959 and 1960 undefeated team led by Ron "Itchy" Smith and Golden "Sonny" Sunkett. He started as a senior in 1961 and helped to extend the winning streak to 51 before losing to Farrell (Pa.).

Hall was inducted into the Al Carino South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

A pituitary tumor in 2002 wiped out the vision in Hall's left eye and severely damaged his right eye.

Hall and his wife have six children.


It is with a sad and heavy heart that I announce the passing of Leonard (Lenny) Hall, who was a basketball legend at Camden High School during the golden years under Coach Tony Alfano

Lenny was a star player on the 1960-1961 basketball team, which was runner-up Group IV state champions; having loss to Trenton High during the championship game. After the back-to-back undefeated (1958-1960) state champion basketball teams graduated in June, 1960, local pundits talked about the end of Camden High's supremacy on the basketball courts in NJ. However, under the leadership of Leonard Hall and his teammates including Charlie Maddox, Dave Wharton, Wilson Pitts (all seniors), and me, the team loss only 2 games during the 1960-1961 season. Leonard made All-City and All South Jersey Group IV during his senior year. Later on he was inducted into the South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame during the 1990s, as well as inducted into the University of Florida Basketball Hall of Fame, where he played collegiate hoops. 

After college, Lenny returned to Camden, where he spent a career in law enforcement, before retirement. Lenny was not only a teammate, but a friend, as well as being an in-law during the past 28 years; after his nephew married my daughter, Stephanie. He will be missed immensely and Camden has lost another great basketball player from those golden years, under Coach Alfano

This picture is of Lenny, which was taken at Camden High during his senior year (1961), when he also was a member of the baseball team. On behalf of his teammates, we wish that he will have eternal peace.

Steven Schley
March 13, 2014


Camden Courier-Post - March 15, 2014

Leonard R. Hall Sr.

AGE: 70 • Camden

Leonard R. Hall, Sr. "Lenny" , age 70, of Camden, passed on March 12, 2014. He is survived by his wife, Sandra; children, Charlotte Taylor, Randi Hall, Ma'kin El, Janeen Hall, Adrian Hall, and Leonard Hall, Jr.; sister, Renee Rodriguez; mother-in-law, Carrie Jones; 8 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild; and a host of other family and friends. Services will be held Wednesday 11 AM at Antioch Baptist Church, 700 Ferry Avenue, Camden where the viewing begins at 9 AM.

Interment: Harleigh Cemetery. 
Arrangements: Carl Miller Funeral Home.



Lenny Hall was a great athlete, a tremendous cop, and a true friend. He will be missed by all who knew him. RIP my friend. - Gilbert "Whip" Wilson

The heart of the city has went to heaven this morning. It was my esteem pleasure to take care of him these past few month/ years and he will greatly be missed by me. He was a modern day super hero, who not only touched but saved many lives in the city of Camden. I love you Mr. LENNY HALL SR. You have my word that I will continue to love and take care of Lenny Hall Jr.. To the entire Hall family and descendents you have my condolences.

Sherell D. Payton

 

 

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