The William "Pop" Gates Photograph Collection depicts some aspects of Gates's career as a professional basketball player from the 1930s to the 1950s, and his participation in basketball-related ceremonies and events from the 1980s to mid-1990s. The collection consists of individual portraits of Gates; group portraits and candid shots of Gates with his brother, teammates, award presenters, colleagues and friends; and a view of a basketball game. Views of his tenure on various professional teams and his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame are limited.
Content: The collection includes a group portrait of Gates and his teammates on the Midget basketball team for the Harlem Y.M.C.A. (ca. 1927); an individual portrait of Gates when he played for the 1938-1939 New York Renaissance, or Rens; team portraits of Gates with the Rens (1939), the Lichtman (Washington, D.C.) Bears (ca. 1943), which consisted mostly of current and former Rens players who jumped between the two teams, and the Buffalo Bisons (ca. 1946-1947); an illustration of Gates probably used for a newspaper article on an upcoming Bears game against Rochester (ca. 1943); and a view of Gates attempting a lay-up against the Duffey (Anderson) Packers when he was player-captain for the Dayton Rens (ca. 1948-1949). Among the New York Renaissance players depicted are Charles "Tarzan" Cooper, Johnny Issacs, William "Dolly" King, Zach Clayton, Clarence "Puggy" Bell, Willie Smith and Clarence "Fat" Jenkins.
Views of Gates taking part in basketball-related ceremonies and gatherings include two candid portraits of Gates posing before his enshrinement display at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, Massachusetts (1989); in an undated snapshot portrait with his brother Lt. Col. Joseph "Jeddy" Gates; receiving a citation from Judge Henry L. Burman for the Harlem Globetrotters 30th Anniversary Homecoming season, in Chicago (1957); receiving a citation, from an unidentified woman, from the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) Hall of Fame, in New York, for his participation on the 1938 championship Benjamin Franklin High School basketball team (1989); in a group reunion portrait at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame that includes players Elvin Hayes, Earl Monroe, Oscar Robertson, Dave Bing and Rick Berry, among others (1990); in a group portrait that includes 1995 Hall of Fame inductee players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Cheryl Miller, Ann Donovan and Vern Mikkelsen, and coaches Aleksander Gomelsky and John Kundla; and in various undated group portraits and candid views from different ceremonies and gatherings, probably dating from the late 1980s to mid-1990s. Depicted in these latter images are Hall of Fame player Julius Erving, Hall of Fame contributor Ed Steitz and basketball administrator and coach Stu Jackson, among others.
Content: The collection does not document Gates's personal life, nor his participation on the 1938 championship Benjamin Franklin High School basketball team.
Biographical/historical: William "Pop" Gates (1917-1999) was a professional basketball player who went from playing on New York's Benjamin Franklin High School championship team in 1938 to the world professional championship team New York Renaissance in 1939. He was selected All-Pro player eight times during a 12 year period playing for the Rens, Grumman Flyers and Washington, D.C. Bears from 1938 to 1945; with the Buffalo Bisons/Tri-City Blackhawks and Dayton Rens of the National Basketball League from 1946 to 1949; and the Scranton Miners of the American League (1949-1950). He was also player-coach of the Harlem Globetrotters (1951-1955); was one of the first African American players to join the formerly all-white professional basketball leagues; and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989.