Photo from Baltimore City College Class of 1963 50th Reunion, May 2013. 1963 BCC Basketball team members–Front row: Dennis Wallace, Quinton Pinkney and Alex Gabbin; second row: George Roderick and Marc Rudick. (Courtesy Photo)
(Updated 11/29/2014) Quinton Pinkney, the celebrated Baltimore City College point guard who led the Knights to two consecutive Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) Division A championships in 1961 and 1962, is being remembered as a stellar athlete, dedicated social worker, loving family man and an all-around extraordinary human being.
“Quinton Pinkney was a of a guy,” summed up Lee Raskin, 69, Pinkney’s City College classmate for three years.
Pinkney died Nov. 17 after a weeks-long illness—but not before he and his family were visited and offered other support from his fellow City alum.
“I thought that was so extraordinary,” said Pinkney’s widow Joan, of the outpouring of support from people who first met her husband a half-century ago.
The show of care and the shared stories and sentiments about her husband buoyed the family’s spirits even in the midst of their loss, she told the AFRO.
“It really made me see my husband with new eyes,” Mrs. Pinkney said. “To see how many people admired him—not just as a basketball player but as a person…it made me feel really proud to step out and say, ‘I’m Mrs. Pinkney.’”
Baltimore City College’s 1963 MSA Basketball Championship team photo. (Photo courtesy of Baltimore City College Green Bag 1963/ Lee Raskin archives)
City alum said they rallied behind their fallen classmate because of who he was and because that’s part of who they are.
“There’s a motto at City College and it is ‘City Forever’ and that speaks to the camaraderie and the lasting union …. There’s a strong bond,” said Raskin.
Pinkney suffered a stroke right around the time City was celebrating its 175th anniversary in late October. Several of his classmates say they realized a key person was missing from the festivities and that’s when they discovered he was ill.
George “Jerry” Phipps, Pinkney’s former coach, said he was in town from Delaware for the anniversary and visited his former student at the hospital. Phipps held Pinkney’s hand and spoke with him for about an hour.
Photo from Baltimore City College Class of 1963’s 50th Reunion, May 2013. Group of 1963 Baltimore City College Varsity athletes L to R: Coach Bob Oliver, Carl Shelton, Dutch Ruppersberger, Mark Barnett, Quinton Pinkney, Edwin Strickland, David Thomas, David Hare, Lee Raskin, Larry Spector, Kenneth Mason, David Palmer. (Photo Courtesy Lee Raskin)
“It was a very solemn moment. I really think it meant a lot to him. It became very emotional—tears came to his eyes and he squeezed my hands, and I was crying along with him,” the 85-year-old retired coach said.
The bond between coach and student was forged back in late 1960 when Phipps, a new coach at the school, held trials for the different athletic teams and found in a diminutive Pinkney the best point guard for his varsity basketball team, which went on to several championships.
“I’ve coached for 35-40 years he was one of the best point guards I had,” Phipps said. “He was small in size but had a great big heart and a competitive spirit. I don’t think we would have done as as we did without him.”
Speaking of Pinkney’s death, the coach added, “I told one of my other former players that God needed a point guard and he certainly got an excellent one in Quinton.”
Despite his skills as a playmaker the court, Pinkney was not a braggadocio and was a popular, well-respected person in school and later in his community, several supporters said.
“He was a pure point guard and general on and off the court,” said Raymond E. Banks Sr., a fellow BCC Hall of Famer and church member. “He had a big heart and pleasant demeanor…. He got along with everybody.”
Baltimore City College MSA Basketball Championship team members: George Roderick, left, John Cardwell, Coach Jerry Phipps, Quinton Pinkney and Leroy Brown. (Photo courtesy of Baltimore Sun, 1962/ Lee Raskin archives)
Mrs. Pinkney agreed that her husband was someone who simply loved people, as was evident in the love he unabashedly demonstrated during their 39-year marriage, his relationship with his children and grandchildren and his interaction with others.
“He never met anyone that he did not embrace; he could always find the good in someone,” she said.
That propensity was an asset in his chosen career as a juvenile counselor and child support enforcement officer with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.
When he first took the job, she recalled, she asked him why he wanted to work with those “bad kids.”
“He said there is no such thing as bad kids but bad situations, and I want to work to change those bad situations,” Mrs. Pinkney said, adding it was through sentiments like that her husband helped her gain a new outlook on people.
His altruism extended beyond troubled youth, she added.
“Women in our neighborhood who did not have husbands, he’d knock on their doors and say, ‘I’m going to the market for my wife, do you need anything?’ or ‘Do you need your grass cut?’”
Despite all that, Pinkney was by no means a saint, his wife added, citing his fondness for casino slot machines with a fond chuckle.
“He was not a perfect man, but he was a wonderful man,” she said. “I am honored to be his wife.”
Quinton Pinkney will be remembered at a memorial service Dec. 1 beginning at 6 p.m. at The Lord’s Church situated on the 5000 block of Park Heights Ave. in Baltimore.