The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by honoring an outstanding athlete who came to Tennessee State on a basketball scholarship, but left as a baseball legend.
George Altman (1951-1955) played four seasons under former Basketball Head Coach Clarence Cash and was a member of a team that won three straight Black National Championships.
Basketball may have been Altman's first love at that time, but his true calling was realized when he joined the TSU baseball team in 1954.
In only two years of playing collegiately, Altman caught the eye of Kansas City Monarchs manager Buck O'Neil who signed him to a contract to play in the Negro League once Altman finished college.
Altman went from being a student-athlete with little experience to a professional player taking batting practice off of Baseball Hall of Fame member Satchel Paige.
O'Neil was impressed with Altman, and convinced Chicago brass to sign the young player when O'Neil became a scout for the Cubs.
Wrigley Field was kind to Altman and the left-handed hitting outfielder flourished in the majors hitting 12 home runs in his first season. Altman's overall play in the 1959 season earned him the Chicago Rookie of the Year award.
Altman continued to improve over the next few years, and he enjoyed his finest season in 1961 hitting .303 with 27 home runs, 28 doubles and a league-high 12 triples. His performance garnered him an appearance on the 1961 All-Star team and a handful of MVP votes.
After another All-Star season in 1962 playing alongside Lou Brock, the Cubs traded Altman to rival St. Louis in a six-player deal.
A year later, Altman was playing for the New York Mets before the Cubs traded for him once again.
Altman finished his playing career in 1975 at the age of 42 with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japan league.
In 1983, Tennessee State inducted Altman into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Watch Altman talk about his career here:
The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.
Sports Information Assistant Alex Mitchell contributed to this article.
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