Jess Brooks

There are all-around athletes who perform numerous sports. Then there are athletes like Jess Brooks, who not only excel in numerous sports, but also at a number of positions IN each sport.

Be it baseball, football or basketball, the Lincoln High and College of Puget Sound standout was as talented and versatile as they come.

He earned 10 varsity letters at Puget Sound from 1932 to 1936. He was All-Northwest in football as a fullback for both his running and blocking talents, and also was a top passer and punter for the Loggers. At Lincoln High, he led the Abes to the unofficial state title in 1931 as the starting fullback.

Im sure Tacoma never had a finer athlete, said Jimmy Ennis, a teammate at Puget Sound.

Brooks went on to play for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League as well as the Everett Pilchucks of the Northwest Baseball League. In the mid-1940s, when the upper echelons of professional baseball were beginning to break down its barrier against black players, Brooks played a role by getting a workout with Tacoma of the Western International League.

I remember when he had a Tacoma City Baseball League batting average over the .600 mark, Ennis said at a Loggers Hall of Fame banquet in 1974 when Brooks was inducted.

And above everything, Jess Brooks had a lot of humility, a rare trait among star athletes, Ennis said.

For that same Hall of Fame banquet, sportswriter Ed Honeywell of The News Tribune in Tacoma wrote a column about Brooks, saying, A guy who was such a good baseball player, hed been a cinch to reach the majors if the despised color line was not in effect.

His versatility in baseball was evident by the fact he play infield for the Monarchs, outfield for Everett and once threw a four-hit shutout at Washington for the Loggers.

In his later life, Brooks lived in Pasadena, Calif., and worked for the Los Angeles Parks Department. He was an avid and talented golfer. Jess Edward Brooks was born Feb. 21, 1913 and died June 2, 1992.