Seventy years ago Ray Bartlett was a PCC student-athlete who would eventually become part of the Lancers court of champions and hall of fame. On June 22, he died at the age of 88 due to complications of an outpatient surgery. Reporters saw Robinson as the greatest Pasadena athlete ever, and fans flocked to the Rose Bowl. In one game, over 40,000 spectators set an American junior college crowd record in a 20-7 win over Compton.
The 1938 football team went on to be undefeated 11-0 state champions. Bartlett earned one of his two most prized moments in life as he was named a JC All-American.
Baseball and basketball were the other two sports Bartlett played, as he was a leading batter in baseball while playing outfield. Basketball was his fourth game which he played guard in. Both teams won conference championships.
PJC (now PCC) was a junior college mixed with the high school. Bartlett’s classes were held in tents that were centered on campus where the V building now stands. They only had a heater for winter and no air conditioning for hotter times.
The school mascot was then known as the Bulldog, which was then passed on to the high school when they split. Bartlett was able to learn in the better environment of the C, D and E buildings going into the 13th grade.
Bartlett eventually met the famous Jackie Robinson through sports. Playing football for PJC, the pair survived racial slurs along with a Japanese player, who was also a long-time friend of Robinson.
During a rough time, Bartlett refused to play with white teammates until coach Tom Mallory had a long discussion with the team to end their opposition.
Mallory was from Oklahoma and some of the Sooner players refused to block for them in practice, until Robinson broke through with a long run. Even though the Bulldog football team drew lots of attention, some hotels and restaurants blocked them out because of the indifferent players.
Capping off his last athletic season at PJC with track and field, Bartlett won the 1939 conference pole vault championship.
Playing running back and halfback for UCLA along with competing in the other three sports, Bartlett was one of only four black players on the football team including Robinson.
Bartlett introduced Robinson to his future wife Rachel during their time as a Bruin.
In 1941 Bartlett and Robinson headed to Hawaii to play a year of semi-pro football on the Honolulu Polar Bears team.
When it was over, Robinson wanted to go back to California and get his baseball career going. Deciding he wanted to continue working in construction, Bartlett stayed in Hawaii.
It was only four days later that Pearl Harbor was attacked. He saw the planes flying over, and as a construction worker helped clean up the gruesome scene in the harbor.
By 1944 it was Bartlett’s time to defend the country as he was drafted into the Army. He’d end up serving in the Pacific, Europe, and Korea.
1947 marked the beginning of Robinson’s pro baseball career, for Bartlett it was the start of 20 years as a Pasadena Police officer. Following his law enforcement career he went on to serve on numerous city boards.
His second most memorable time was in 1999 when Robinson’s widow appointed him to be the grand marshal of the 110th Rose Parade.
Now in the PCC Court of Champions, students and visitors can see his bronze bust statue, along with a photo and brief career summary in the Hall of Fame.
Bartlett was born on October 27, 1919 in Los Angeles. When he was 19, volunteering to clean the Pasadena YMCA facilities eventually lead him to serve as the board president over half a century later. For high school and college, Bartlett went to Pasadena Junior College.