Object Story and Significance:
Playing basketball, a sport involving the body and mind as well as non-verbal communication, promoted connectedness and collectivity and was popular among the youth of Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s. During this period, the YMCA, neighborhood churches, New York Chinatown’s 5th Precinct police, and Chinese American businessmen members of the Chinese Community Club all sponsored Chinese American athletic leagues to provide safe recreational outlets for their community’s growing number of youth. This photograph, taken ca. 1944, is of Shavey Lee’s basketball team. Shavey Lee was co-owner of a business license brokerage firm and the restaurant Tung Sai (East West) on Mulberry Street and a popular neighborhood figure widely acknowledged as the unofficial Mayor of Chinatown. Lee took particular interest in supporting Chinese American youth sports and served as board chairman of the Chinese Community Club, which sponsored the Chinese American Athletic League. In this photo, standing in the back row from left to right are: Dory Lum, Leung Gay Lee, Stanley Chin, Shavey Lee, the team’s coach Lung Chin, Richard Chin, and Moody Chin. On the bottom row are: Danny Lum, Stephen Chin, Donald Chin, and Newton Chin. Players Stephen Chin, Newton Chin, Donald Chin, and Stanley Chin were among members of the famed Chinatown Midgets team which during the 1944-1945 basketball season won the Police Athletic League’s New York City Midget Basketball Championship unbeaten in 25 straight games.
2011.005.008 A meeting of the inter-ethnic Police Athletic League. The 3rd person, from left to right, is Stanley Chin, and the 8th is, “Dr. Newton Chin.” Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Chinatown Sports Teams Collection.