Jack Defee – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Horse-Racing and Baseball
Jack Defee, a star football player at Sam Houston State in the late 1920s, became a key figure in the baseball and horse-racing scenes of New Orleans in the 1950s. In 1957, Defee purchased the New Orleans Pelicans baseball franchise and he would serve as the team’s president for many years.
He also served as chairman of the Louisiana State Racing Commission and was a founding member of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), serving as the organization’s president for nine years. The HBPA is an organization that represents the horsemen’s interests on a myriad of issues.
Defee was also involved in the early days of professional football in New Orleans as he organized a 1960 exhibition game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers that was attended by 16,500 fans at City Park Stadium.
He was inducted into the HBPA’s Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Sam Houston State Athletics Hall of Fame (inducted 1971).
A native of Humble, Texas, he lettered in football for Sam Houston State for four years (1927-1930), helping the Bearkats to the 1930 Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship. He lettered in basketball for the Bearkats in 1930-31.
He also served as president of the New Orleans Athletic Club.
He died of a heart attack in 1981 at the age of 82 while still serving the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association as its Louisiana division president.