The original "Clown Prince of Basketball," Harlem Globetrotters Legend Reece "Goose" Tatum is among a distinguished list of 10 players and coaches inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011.
Tatum was the first person elected from a newly formed Hall of Fame committee representing Early African-American Pioneers of the Game. Tatum was posthumously enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 12, 2011, in Springfield, Mass.
A Globetrotter for 12 remarkable seasons, Tatum was considered by many to be one of the greatest basketball players of his era and one of the best showmen in Globetrotter history.
Sixty years after his first season, the Harlem Globetrotters retired Tatum’s jersey number 50 and inducted him into the Globetrotters’ "Legends" Ring, on Feb. 8, 2002, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
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.
He led the Globetrotters to historic defeats of George Mikan and the world champion Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 and 1949, paving the way for the integration of the game.
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."