George Powles was an acclaimed baseball and basketball coach, having coached 17 men who went on to pursue professional athletic careers.
On this list you’ll find Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Bill Russell, Joe Morgan and Curt Flood – all coached by Powles at McClymonds High School in Oakland.
Early Life and Education
Powles had an immense impact as the head baseball coach at McClymonds High School. Legendary black athletes like Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson and Bill Russell all credit him with inspiring them.
In the 1940s and ’50s, approximately 25% of Oakland youth would try out for sports. At the start of every new school year, Powles would host an orientation session for all participants.
He would spend 15 minutes instructing them on the proper way to shake hands as a sign of respect and good sportsmanship.
George Powles, a long-time baseball coach and teacher at McClymonds High School in Oakland, did more for the city’s impoverished youth than anyone else. He did so quietly and unobtrusively, using his wisdom and distinction to motivate them.
George Powles made a lasting impact as coach of baseball and basketball at McClymonds High School in Oakland. Many of the boys he mentored went on to great professional careers as a result of their experiences under his guidance.
In Oakland’s 1950s, an influx of hungry, ambitious young men followed in Powles’ footsteps; filled with opportunities and surrounded by an inspiring baseball culture that produced legendary players such as Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, and Curt Flood. It culminated in their careers becoming Hall-of-Fame greats.
Each player was coached by Powles at some point during their teen years, including on local teams as well as American Legion and Connie Mack baseball leagues.
Achievements and Honors
George Powles, a high school basketball coach in Oakland, inspired young athletes and shaped future pros like Bill Russell. This weekend he was inducted into San Francisco State’s Hall of Fame.
While many teachers attempted to curb the ambitions of black students, Powles took an opposite approach. He recognized Billy Russell’s immense athletic potential and encouraged him to strive for greatness.
Russell credits an act of kindness as a turning point in his development as a player, giving him the courage to overcome his early struggles and blossom as an excellent player. It also inspired him to develop an innovative defensive style which helped him win games.
George Powles, a coach at McClymonds High School in Oakland for over three decades, left an indelible mark on thousands of students. He led teams that won 28 Oakland Athletic League championships and served as an inspiring role model to students of all races, creeds, and colors.
He made an immense contribution to American sports through his compassion and unpretentious leadership style.
He had a profound effect on many young men, from Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson to Curt Flood – who challenged Major League Baseball’s reserve clause. Without judgment or criticism, he inspired kids from working-class neighborhoods to achieve success without hesitation.