Martin, first African-Amercian athlete to compete in SEC, passes away at age 66
NEW ORLEANS -- Stephen "Steve" Andrew Martin Sr., a pioneer in the desegregation of African-Americans in collegiate sports in the 1960s, passed away on Tuesday. Martin became the first African-American to compete in a varsity sport for any Southeastern Conference school when he took the field for the Tulane baseball team in 1966.
"Steve was a trendsetter and pioneer, who opened many doors for African-Americans, when he donned a Tulane uniform and took the field for the first time in 1966," Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson said. "Through his heroic determination, he helped break down a racial barrier and advance collegiate athletics. This is a sad day for the Martin family and the entire Tulane community, but I have no doubt his legendary actions will remain as one of the great moments in our university's history."
A native of Marrero, La., Martin prepped at St. Augustine High School, where he received the prestigious Purple Knight Award. Following high school, Martin attended Tulane on an academic scholarship and was a member of the Green Wave baseball varsity squad from 1966-68 and the freshman team in 1965.
He made his Tulane debut against an SEC opponent when he played as a member of the freshman team at LSU on April 3, 1965. He had a sacrifice fly in the opener and an infield single in the second as Tulane split a doubleheader with a 4-0 win and a 3-1 loss.
A center fielder, Martin became the first African-American to compete in a varsity sport for any SEC school when he played in his first game against Spring Hill College in the 1966 season opener for the Wave. Tulane completed the '66 campaign with a 17-7 overall record. It also marked the Green Wave's final year as an SEC member.
During his varsity career, he played in 61 games and was a career .230 hitter with five home runs, 15 RBIs.
Martin and his wife, Brigid Cheri Martin, also a Tulane graduate, were married for 43 years and the couple had three children, Stephen Jr., Nicole and Dana.
Born Nov. 2, 1946, Martin was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and earned his bachelor's degree in Latin from Tulane in 1968 and earned his master's in business administration from Tulane in 1973.
He served his country in the United States Army and retired as the Chief Financial Officer for Tuskegee University in 2012.