- Ed Allin
- Hometown (Last School)
- Lexington, KY (Henry Clay)
- 1944-45, 1945-46
- March 2, 1924
Ed Allin, a reserve as a University of Kentucky player who later made basketball history as a high school coach, died Thursday night. He was 96.
At Midway High School in the early 1960s, Allin became one of the first Kentucky coaches at an integrated high school to have a Black player on the team. Then as Woodford County High School coach in the 1964-65 season, he was the first to start five Black players.
“I saw Coach Allin as a trailblazer,” said William Bland, one of those five starters for Woodford County. “He was really a man before his time.”
Bland said he believed Allin’s lineup was not an attempt to make history.
“I really can hear him saying, ‘I am going to play my best players,’” Bland said. “He was probably sending a message: Somebody may not like it, and that’s OK. But this is what I’m going to do.
“He wasn’t influenced by any political influences. He was a man that stood for right.”
Bland suggested that an other-worldly influence led Allin to use an all-Black starting lineup at a time of heightened racial tensions.
“If you want to deal with religion, I would say the Lord led him there,” Bland said. “That’s my theory. He was placed there by God. I really believe that.”
A junior at the time, Bland said he was not aware of any negative reaction to an all-Black starting lineup. Gene Kirk, presently an associate athletics director at the school, said he assumed objections were expressed.
“He was brave enough to start the best players regardless of anything else,” said Kirk, who formerly worked as a high school coach. “I’ve talked to some of the players who played for Ed. And they hold him in the highest esteem. I’m sure he took a lot of heat for doing what he thought was best.
“Being the first to do anything and being in a leadership is something I always admire.”
Allin, who coached at the school for seven seasons, was inducted into the Woodford County Public Schools Hall of Fame in 2018. He earlier coached 12 seasons for Midway High School and later three seasons for Bryan Station.
In 2008, Allin received the first Midway Living History Award in recognition of his dedication as a teacher, coach, humanitarian and contributions to the history of Midway. During the ceremony, former players presented Allin with a poem about his courage to take a stand for Black players.
Allin was on the UK teams in the 1944-45 and 1945-46 seasons. He played a total of 21 games and scored 16 points.
Humzey Yessin, a manager on those Kentucky teams, said Allin was a talented player.
“He happened to come along when the Fabulous Five came along,” Yessin said.
During his two seasons for Kentucky, Allin was teammates with three of the eventual Fab Five: Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, Ralph Beard and Alex Groza.
Edward Wiley Allin was born in Lexington on March 2, 1924. He and his family lived in the area where the present William T. Young Library stands.
“So he grew up essentially right on campus,” said his son, Mike Allin. “He was hanging around and sneaking into UK practices when he was a young down down in Alumni Gym.”
Allin graduated from Henry Clay High School. He was good enough to receive a scholarship offer from Adolph Rupp.
UK’s roster for those seasons said Allin was a guard/forward even though he was listed as only 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds. “Back then, that was a big guard,” Yessin said.
Allin also played baseball. He was a good enough catcher to participate in a tryout camp organized by the Boston Red Sox.
For many years, Allin worked as an umpire in softball and baseball games played at Lexington’s Woodland Park.
A history major, Allin wanted to be a coach. “He told me that’s all he ever wanted to do,” his son said. “He just wanted to coach high school sports.”
Rupp helped Allin begin his coaching career at Midway High School.
Bland also became a coach. He coached for Woodford County High School for more than 30 years and then was an assistant at what was then called Asbury College for five seasons. He now teaches in Asbury’s School of Education.
When asked about Allin’s influence in his life, Bland recalled the coach moving him from forward to guard. Bland did not like the change at the time. Decades later, Bland sees the change as Allin’s way of making Bland, who was not much taller than 6-foot, a more plausible college prospect. Bland went on to play for Tennessee Tech, where he became part of that school’s first all-Black starting lineup.
Besides his son, Mike, Allin is survived by his wife, Jean Allin, daughter Dottie Allin and an older sister, Margene “Bitsy” Martin.