Solomon Butler ('19)
Baseball - Basketball - Football - Track & Field
Solomon Butler was agruably the greatest student-athlete to ever attend the University of Dubuque (Dubuque German College). He was the leading vote getter in the Hall of Fame balloting as he was, without a doubt, one of the greatest college athletes of all time. Butler earned letters in Football, Track & Field, Baseball, and Basketball from 1915-19. He burst onto the national track scene in 1919 with wins in the 100 yard dash and broad jump at the Penn Relays. From there he took first place in the broad jump with a record leap of 24'-10" at the Inter-Allied Games in Paris while also placing in the 100-meter dash. With the Olympic Games scheduled for renewal in 1920, he was considered the favorite in the broad jump after an Olympic Trials record jump of 24'-8.0". Butler was one of three African-Americans to qualify for the U.S. Team in 1920. At the Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, Butler pulled a leg muscle in his first jump of 21'-7 7/8", ending his competition with an injury hampered seventh place finish. That same year Butler would return to win the broad jump at the AAU Championship.
On the football field, Butler was the first African-American to quarterback a team for four-straight years at a college. In 1918 he was named Second Team All-Iowa Elevens and First Team All-Conference of Iowa Colleges by Sec Taylor and First Team First Team All-Iowa by Jack Shipley. He also took part in one of the most memorable games in Iowa history as the All-Iowa College team played against the Camp Dodge divisional team in sub-zero weather. Following his dream of playing professional football, Butler began with the Rock Island Independents and Hammond Pros of the newly organized National Football League. He would also play for the Akron Pros and Canton Bulldogs before retiring in 1926 after 23 games over four years.. He teamed with the famous Jim Thorpe in 1926 on the Canton Bulldogs. As a Spartan, the highlight of Butler's playing days was a 125-0 victory over Buena Vista College in 1917 in which he averaged 25.0 yards per carry. Butler made it know early on that his ability on the football field was special when as a freshman he led the team to a 13-7 victory over St. Joseph College (now Loras) in front of an estimated crowd of 7,000 spectators.
When his track scheduled allowed, Butler also played baseball as a pitcher and shortstop. In 1925 at the age of 30 he pitched professionally for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League. Basketball also opened up new doors for Butler as he made his way to California with the Chicago All-Stars. While in Hollywood, he re-opened Jack's Cafe (previously owned by Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson) and appeared in numerous films.
He is also a member of the Des Moines Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame. Video of Sol jumping in the 1919 Inter-Allied Games is available here. (He is the second jumper)