Robert Malone
Class of 2017

Robert Malone
When considering the impact Trinity High School has had in the realms of academia, sociology, music, agriculture, art, law and the military, it is not surprising that some are calling one of the school’s graduates one of Athens’ greatest all-around athletes.

As a high school sophomore Robert Malone was fighting for the starting quarterback position when his mother told his football coach he had committed a minor off-field infraction. The coach, legendary H.B. Provience, better known as PRA, was not too concerned about it, but since Malone’s mother was a friend and a teaching colleague, he told him to run a few laps around the practice field.

After thinking about it for a few minutes Malone decided to turn in his pads. His mother and grandmother had raised him to believe character mattered above all else and he decided he could not truthfully represent the team after having broken the rules.

The team he was trying to represent was no ordinary team. They were the legendary Trinity High School Panthers, who in the 15 years prior had completed three undefeated seasons, won four North Alabama High School Athletic Championships and each year had placed at least one player on the association’s allstar roster, including a record six in 1951.

Malone sat out the rest of his sophomore year, concentrated on academics, and earned an A-B honor roll slot.During his junior year he switched sports and became the starting point guard for the Panthers basketball team. During the next two years he averaged a double-double — 10 points and 15 assists per game — and was selected as an al tournament point guard. His senior year he was selected as an All-State guard.

Robert also ran track that year and competed in the 100, 220, broad jump and ran the first leg of the 440 relay in the district event at Lakeside High School in Decatur. Trevor Washington, another Trinity Athlete, said Malone “was one of the best all around high school athletes.”

A true student-athlete, Robert graduated from Trinity with the Class of 1963 as an honor student and as president of the student council.

During the summer he represented the Athens Negro Community in a swim meet against the Decatur Negro Community and won four of the seven events in which he competed. He also played baseball that summer, pitching and playing first base for the Athens Giants semi- professional baseball team.

“Baseball was my number one sport,” said Malone. “I was mentored by the great Stacy Atkins himself. He always looked out for the young guys and if we were not playing a tough team he would let me pitch.”

Atkins was a longtime athletic legend in the black community of Athens. He was a star quarterback at Trinity and signed as a pitcher with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro League.

Malone enrolled in Atlanta’s Clark College in the fall of 1963 and immediately joined the football team.

By the end of the season he had become the first-team punter, averaging more than 42 yards per kick, and pulled some duty as a blocking back. After the football season he joined the tennis team, played number two singles, and helped the Clark Panther’s win the 1964 SIAC Championship.

He joined the U.S. Army in 1965, but not before stopping by Athens and quarterbacking the semi-professional Athens Giants football team to a 25-0 victory over the McMinnville (Tennessee) Tigers. While on an army assignment in Vicenza, Italy, Malone said, “I made the All-Army team and was awarded the MVP award for the army in the Southern European Task Force championship game.” After leaving Italy he was assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where he played centerfield, had a .485 batting average and was selected for the post all-star team.

He was also the top pitcher for the post softball team that won three All-Services championship in a row.

In a letter former major leaguer and Detroit Tiger Wayne Redmond called him “the left handed Josh Gibson.”

Much like the Trinity graduates who worked in academia or other Trinity graduates, like Dr. C. Eric Lincoln in sociology; Patti Malone in music; George Ruffin Bridgeforth in agriculture; James “Jippie” Watkins in art; Judge Eugene Pincham in law and the hundreds of officers and enlisted men in the military, Malone is an outstanding representative of the school and his record on the world stage stamps him as either Athens greatest allaround athlete or certainly one who is part of the conversation. Robert, who played Dr. C. Eric Lincoln in the play about Trinity called “Arise and Build,” retired after 20 years in the Army and is currently the minister at Village View United Methodist Church in Athens.