In a 2002 article by Darren Ivy in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Marques Haynes – the first player inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Globetrotter – said of his teammate, “Goose was responsible for creating great interest in basketball in this country and around the world...I’d say Michael Jordan is the Goose Tatum of today.”
Tatum started his athletic career in the late 1930s as a baseball player, where, as a standout first baseman, he would entertain the crowd with quick routines after put-outs. It was during this time that his outstanding all-around athletic ability and comedic timing caught the eye of Globetrotters’ founder Abe Saperstein. Once signed to the Globetrotters by Saperstein, Tatum quickly became an unstoppable basketball force. When he joined the Globetrotters, Tatum brought his natural athletic ability, uncannily accurate hook shot and comedic timing and applied them to basketball. Those traits still help to define the Globetrotters today.
Following Tatum’s passing on Jan. 18, 1967, at the age of 45, Lawrence Casey of the Chicago Daily Defender wrote, “Like Joe Louis in boxing, Babe Ruth in baseball, Bobby Jones in golf…Goose Tatum was king of his chosen sport.”
Tatum – whose number 50 Globetrotters jersey was retired on Feb. 8, 2002 – joins a Hall of Fame list that includes Saperstein (1971), Haynes (1998), Meadowlark Lemon (2003), and the following Hall of Famers who at one time played for the world’s most famous basketball team: Wilt Chamberlain (1979), Magic Johnson (2002), Connie Hawkins (1992), William “Pop” Gates (1989), John Chaney (2001), and Lynette Woodard (2004). The Globetrotters were inducted into the Hall as a team in 2002, one of eight teams ever so honored.
Sponsored by Campbell Soup Company, Howard Johnson Hotels, America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses, Greyhound Lines, Spalding, and Russell Athletic, the Original Harlem Globetrotters are celebrating their 85th consecutive year, continuing a world famous tradition of ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that continues to thrill fans of all ages. Throughout their history, the Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 120 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience. Proud inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans—among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents—over more than eight thrilling decades.