From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Givens, Lewis Obed

(born: October 20, 1923  -  died: December 12, 1990) 

Lewis Obed Givens was an all-around athlete. He is  remembered for being an outstanding baseball player in the starting lineup of the Lexington Hustlers. He played in leftfield and is also remembered for his batting consistency. When mentioned in the newspapers, his name is often misspelled as "Louis Givens or Given." He was a member of the new Lexington Hustlers team that was formed in 1947. In 1952, returning veteran team members included Lewis Givens, David Whitney, Bill Berry, Beaver Mason, James Morehead, "Jeep" Williams, Irvin Smith, James Wade, Frank Tucci, and "Scoop" Brown.

The team played opponents such as Club Cuero (Louisville), Louisville Duchess Club, Louisville Royal Giants, Zellers Cafe (New Albany, IN), Peewee Valley, Georgetown Athletics, Midway, Cincinnati Chivos (OH), Zulu Cannibal Giants (Louisville), Cleveland Valley Tigers (OH), Cleveland Buckeyes (OH), Indianapolis ABCs (IN), Winchester Pioneers, Nashville Cubs (TN), Kentucky Klowns (Louisville), Cincinnati Tigers (OH), and the Nicholasville Nicks. In March of 1950, Butch Glass retired as manager of the Hustlers and he was replaced by "Scoop" Brown. In August of 1950, Lewis Givens had a 10-game hitting streak that ended in the game against the Nicholasville Nicks. Still, the Hustlers took the game 6-5 and had a team record of 21-7. In 1953, Lewis Givens, Tom Rutherford, Homer Latham, and Bill Berry, were playing for the Louisville Clippers. 

Lewis O. Givens was also a military veteran. In 1943, during WWII, he was listed among the African American men sent from Lexington by Local Board 40 for induction in the U.S. Navy. While enlisted, Givens played for the Mayport Blue Jackets Baseball Team in Jacksonville, FL. It was the only team representing a military installation that played in the Jacksonville City League. In 1945, Givens completed his two years of service and returned home. He married Josephine Searight. The couple is listed in the 1950 Lexington City Directory. Lewis Givens was employed as a driver. In 1951, new officers were selected for the Nathan Caulder Post No.132 American Legion in Lexington, KY. Lewis O. Givens served as the historian. 

Before joining the Navy and after his return home, Givens was known in the African American community due to his successful participation in other sports. In 1938, at the Prall Street Play Block, Givens was in the "Hash Meet" boxing tournament. He defeated James Burton. The following year, during the 1939 city wide horseshoe tournament, Lewis Givens and Felix Johnson represented Prall Street. During the 1946 city wide track meet in Lexington, the Prall Street 220 yard relay team took first place: Lewis Givens, Robert Mooney, and Joe Mooney. Givens also took 2nd place in the individual 100-yard dash and second place in the individual 200-yard dash. That same year, Lewis Givens was a member of the newly organized Volley Ball Team #1 at the Prall Street Playground Center. The other players were Joe Bingham, Dan Kelley, William Stanley, Robert Mooney, and John Anderson.

In 1947 and 1948, Lewis Givens was a halfback on the Lexington, KY, professional football team, the Bluejackets. The team played two games the first year. They lost the first game to the Covington Rockets and tied the second game with the Danville All-Stars. Lewis Givens was the top "ground-gainer." In October of 1948, the team played against the Louisville Red Raiders at the Bluegrass Athletic Park in Lexington. On Thanksgiving Day in 1948, in a loss against the Covington Rockets, Lewis Givens had intercepted a pass and ran 98 yards for a touchdown. The team record was 3 wins, 2 losses, 1 tie. On November 28, 1948, the Bluejackets played against the Versailles All-Stars in Versailles, KY. Both teams had defeated the Danville All-Stars. Nathan Pashmore and W. S. Dodson were the coaches for the Bluejackets, they were former football players at Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University). Another sport Givens participated in was the 1948 city wide track meet in Lexington. Lewis Givens took first place in the high jump competition. In the 1952 meet, he took 2nd place in the 100-yard dash.

In 1948, Givens also served as the timekeeper official in the City-wide Intermediate Tournament (basketball). The tournament was played at the Charles Young Center gymnasium. It was called a city-wide tournament and included teams from Paris, Frankfort, and other surrounding counties. 

Lewis O. Givens was a member of Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. When he was four years old, Givens was in the womanless midget wedding held at the church on May 28, 1928. Other performances were  provided by the Prall Street Midget Quartet and the Patterson Street School Quintet. The wedding play was directed by Lewis Givens' mother, Mrs. Mary Givens. Lewis Givens was a student at the Patterson Street School and in 1933 his teacher was Anna Mae Strider. Givens was on the 4B honor roll the first six weeks of the second school term. In 1937, Lewis O. Givens was a member of the Harmonizing Four, a singing group at Consolidated Baptist Church.

Lewis O. Givens was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Dave and Mary E. Wilson Givens. One of Lewis O. Givens' children is Adele Givens, noted actress, writer, and comedian. 

For more information see Lewis "Goat" Obed Givens in the "Funeral Notices," Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/14/1990, p.C4; "Colored Notes: There will be a womanless midget wedding ..., Lexington Leader, 05/27/1928, p.13"; "Colored Notes: Patterson School," Lexington Leader, 05/04/1933, p.8; "Colored Notes: Sunday will be Men's Day at the Consolidated Baptist Church," Lexington Leader, 05/13/1937, p.21; "Colored Notes: Prall Street Play Block," 07/24/1938, p.11; "Colored Notes: Prall Street Play Block," Sunday Herald-Leader, 07/16/1939, p.15; "Following the Flag: The Following Negro men sent ...," The Lexington Leader, 06/16/1943, p.11; "As we go marching on: En route to the states," Lexington Herald, 12/25/1945, p.4; "Colored Notes: Marriage licenses have been issued ...," The Lexington Leader, 01/02/1946, p.7; "Colored Notes: Parks and Playgrounds," Sunday Herald-Leader, 07/14/1946, p.12; "Colored Notes: Parks and Playgrounds," Sunday Herald-Leader, 07/28/1946, p.9; "Community Centers," Sunday Herald-Leader, 03/28/1948, p.16; "Colored Notes: Parks and Playgrounds," 08/01/1948, p.20; "Lexington pro grid team to play Sunday," Sunday Herald-Leader, 10/10/1948, p.6; "Bluejackets to play at Versailles today," Sunday Herald-Leader, 11/28/1948, p.17; Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1950, p.175; "Lexington Hustlers hold initial practice Sunday," Lexington Herald, 03/29/1950, p.7; "Nicholasville, Hustlers play 10-inning tie," Lexington Herald, 07/17/1950, p.7; Ben Johnson, "Hustlers meet Midway Club," Sunday Herald-Leader, 08/27/1950, p.13; "Colored Notes: Mrs. Julia Scott, "Nathan Caulder Post No.132," Sunday Herald-Leader, 07/01/1951, p.32; "Hustlers to organize," Lexington Herald, 04/04/1952, p.12; "Colored Notes: City track meet notes," 08/24/1952, p.7; Ben Johnson, "Clippers win two games," Lexington Herald, 06/08/1953, p.6; Joe Pickett, "The Mayport Bluejackets play ball," The Florida Times Union, 09/27/2017 (online).

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“Givens, Lewis Obed,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 19, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/index.php/items/show/300004886.

Last modified: 2023-11-27 17:33:16