Thomas Hardesty was coach of an Annapolis Elks football team in 1975 when 8-year-old Tony Bryant was dropped as a player because he was black. Hardesty kept a diary at the time, which is now part of the court record in the case. Excerpts from the diary follow :
"I had been getting subtle hints about Tony since other coaches noticed him out for the team, wanting to know when I was going to do something about removing Tony from team because of the lodge's feeling and official ruling about black youths in any of their sports programs."
"It was explained to me that the lodge did not want black children on their athletic teams because lodge had expressed a negative feeling to them playing on home field and possibility of them attending the sports banquet which was held in the lodge dining-room yearly."
"I was told about a black youth who came out for the team last year and that his father was an officer stationed at USNA and involved in some black liberation movement. Not being able to send this child home as easy as they had some other black youths . . . the lodge voted to close the home field down for one year for repairs. This would keep the black youth from appearing on the home field in an Elk uniform. Right after this, was also told, physical exams were given and the black youth was found to have defective vision. His father was shown the report and took the child from the team for safety. I also understand the father sent club a letter thanking them for their concern. I never did find out if the physicals were a yearly thing or just to suit an occasion."
"Before dinner I took my children out on the back deck and sat down and explained to them what was happening and what I had to do because of my feelings. I asked them if they knew what discrimination meant. My daughter, being 11, said she did, but my son, 8, said he wasn't quite sure, so I went into it a little deeper and he got the general idea. Kim was very upset that a child would be subjected to such treatment. Little Tommy said he couldn't understand it either."
"About 5:45 Mrs. Bryant and another person pulled up in their cars. I . . . said "Let's get it over with." We went to Mrs. Bryant's car and I told her, 'Mrs. Bryant, I am being pressured to get rid of Tony because he is black. I don't believe in this kind of stuff and won't stand for it. Myself and the other coaches are quitting.' I gave the new coaches the equipment and papers and as I was leaving the field, little Tony approached me and said, 'Mr. Hardesty, can't I play football no more?' Never in my life have I had anything hurt me so much, except hearing that my kid brother had died in Vietnam, when Tony stood there looking at me with his helmet hanging in his hand and those pitiful eyes full of whys?"
"I explained that I was told point-blank that the black kid had to go, the lodge did not want him on the team, and later learned they were more upset over the prospect of he and his parents having to be invited into the lodge dining room for the sports banquet and award night to receive his photograph and team picture and award."
"Any number of people, including businessmen, clergymen politicians and people from all walks of life have called or stopped me and said they were really glad to see someone stand up and tell the truth, but in the next breath, they said they would not be in my shoes for a million dollars."
"At Mr. Wingate's party, a young man that went to my high school approached me about this and said if I had any trouble to call him and the entire Quantico marine barracks was ready to come up and help me."
"Many members of the lodge have asked me to come back to the lodge, but I just can't make myself walk thru those doors knowing that they are not concerned with really updating themselves on this issue, but that privately they are having meetings between the different coaches and figuring how to beat the charge. Also, one person told me that one man wants to know how they might countersue. I really would like to know how you can countersue the truth."