Year Inducted: 1984
Nominated By: B. Ernerst Watkins
Sports Competed In: Basketball, Football
Athlete, Coach or Contributor: Athlete
Attended Pueblo Centennial H.S., graduating in 1922.
● First black to play basketball and break the color barrier in a Pueblo High School.
● Played shortstop and 3rd base on Centennial’s 1921 and 1922 undefeated baseball team but was not allowed to play basketball until W. S. Kettering became coach.
● First black athlete to make All-State basketball player as a forward for the Bulldogs (1921-22).
● Helped lead Centennial to the South Central League Championship and defeated Salt Lake City, the InterMountain Champions, 22-17.
● Lost to Greeley High School 22-20 in overtime at the State Tournament played in Boulder, CO.
● Regarded as the outstanding player of the State Tournament and chosen to the All-State team along with team captain Hatfield Chilson.
● Semi-Pro pitcher for 20 years.
● Pitched for the La Junta team receiving $25.00 a game.
● Played on year for Colorado Springs and several years for semi-pro teams including one year with the White Elephants in Denver.
● Was offered a contract with the Kansas City Monarchs, a traveling black team, but didn't want to quit his job at the C.F. & I.
Served in World War II.
"John Elbeck, one of the great black athletes of our city, and known as "Johnnie" in high School, was born fifty years ahead of his time. John’s family moved here from Alabama in 1912. They lived in the old Pepper Sauce Bottoms area and John attended Hinsdale Grade School, and then Centennial High School where he graduated in 1922. John was the first black to break the color barrier in the Pueblo schools and the first black to make the All State Team. After graduation John went to work at the C.F. & I. For $4.00 a day and continued playing semi-pro baseball for 20 years. He is a gentleman and I am proud to call him my friend."
-- From the nomination Letter by B. Ernest Watkins
Worked at the C.F.&I. 20-inch mill.
Lived in Pueblo... Married twice, first to Olga Elbeck then again to Permilla Ewing Elbeck... Passed away on May 10, 2004.