Winning a state title in any sport is a challenge. You have to get through district and regional finals to make it to the championship game. Just being a part of that run is a huge accomplishment, so imagine having it happen twice in the same school year.
That’s exactly what the East High School basketball and baseball Tigers achieved in the 1968/69 school year. Those victories are the subject of the book “Tigerland,” written by Columbus native Wil Haygood.
“For an all-black school on the segregated side of town, it was quite a feat. And it made national history,” said Haygood.
According to Haygood, “There was a lot of racial strife going on then. And sports has always brought people together.”
The “Tigerland” story not only details the accomplishments of the teams, but also the atmosphere in which they were playing and the greater implications of their victories.
“They knew that they were representative of every black person in this city,” said Haygood.
The book is filled with inspirational people, from Jack Gibbs–the first black principal in the city– to Ed Ratleff, an all-star on both winning teams.
“We had the best principal in the world. And the two coaches they did a great job. With all the black athletes, even though they were white. They did a great job by mentoring us and also teach us the right and wrong things to do,” said Ed Ratleff.
At 16 and 17 years old they were playing for their school, their community, and so much more.
To learn more about Tigerland and Author Wil Haygood visit https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/42228/wil-haygood