Sports in Courts: Malcolm Poindexter Jr. v. Granville Hamner

Today’s post was written by Matthew DiBiase, archives specialist at the National Archives at Philadelphia. 

The relationship between professional athletes and members of the press has always been tense and, sometimes, explosive. Featured here is one such explosive confrontation between a journalist and a professional athlete.

Malcolm Poindexter, Jr. was a young photojournalist working for the Philadelphia Tribune. He was born in 1925 and was raised in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia. He graduated from Overbrook High School and Temple University and after graduating from Temple he began working as a photographer for the Philadelphia Tribune and other publications as well.

On October 1, 1949, Poindexter went to Shibe Park (where the Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball team played and, later, to be renamed Connie Mack Stadium) to photograph players of the Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers’ baseball teams in his capacity as a credentialed press photographer.

As shown here in the civil complaint filed by Poindexter, during the game Poindexter alleged that he was accosted by Philadelphia Phillies infielder Granville “Granny” Hamner and was verbally and physically abused by him. Poindexter further alleged that the defendant Hamner falsely told police that Poindexter had attacked him and told the police to eject him from the ballpark—which they did.

Granville “Granny” Hamner was born in 1927 in Richmond, Virginia and was raised there. He grew up to become a baseball player and joined the Philadelphia Phillies in 1944 as a shortstop. By 1948 Hamner was a starter at shortstop and in 1950 helped the Phillies win the 1950 National League pennant.

20 days after the alleged incident Poindexter filed a civil suit against Hamner in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The reason Poindexter filed suit in Federal court was because the defendant in the civil action Granny Hamner resided in Richmond, Virginia.

Malcolm Poindexter was seeking $20,000 in special and punitive damages brought on by the alleged attack.

It wasn’t until September 25, 1950, that Granny Hamner answered Poindexter’s civil complaint. In his answer (as seen here) Hamner expressed doubts about Poindexter’s credentials as a press photographer and denied Poindexter’s allegation that he physically abused and verbally abused Poindexter.

On that same day Hamner demanded a jury trial to contest Poindexter’s allegations. However, the case never went to trial. After months of negotiations between the two parties the attorneys for Malcolm Poindexter, Jr., and Granville “Granny” Hamner on April 25, 1951, filed a joint order of discontinuance which stated that the case between the two had been settled, discontinued, and ended.

Malcolm Poindexter, Jr. went on to work for the Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper and by the mid-1960s he was working for KYW news radio, and, later for KYW TV station as a reporter. Poindexter received numerous awards for his magnificent work in journalism and earned the respect of his colleagues in print, radio, and TV media circles. Poindexter retired from journalism in 2001 and died of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010.

Granville “Granny” Hamner continued to play for the Philadelphia Phillies until 1959 (earning All-Star honors from 1952 to 1954) when he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. He finished his Major League Baseball career in 1962 with the Kansas City A’s with a lifetime batting average of .262% while averaging 75 RBIs per season.

Hamner returned to the Phillies organization to manage in their farm system in the 1970s and 1980s before he died on September 12, 1993, in Richmond, Virginia.

The records featured in this blog post are located at the National Archives at Philadelphia. Interested in learning more or reviewing the records? Email philadelphia.archives@nara.gov for further research.

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