Born: Ocotber 4, 1872
Died: February 5, 1955
Towns: Passaic & Newark
Ernest A. Blood was born October 4, 1872 in Manchester, NH. An excellent student-athlete, he decided to pursue a career in the emerging field of physical education. He trained at the Dudley Allen Sargent School for Physical Education in Cambridge, MA and later joined the faculty for several years. He also taught a wide range of sports and exercises at YMCA’s during the 1890s. The sport of basketball was conceived during this time by YMCA instructor James Naismith, and Ernest instantly fell in love with the game.
In 1906, Ernest was hired to teach physical education and coach basketball at Potsdam Normal School and Clarkson College of Technology in upstate New York. He held those dual positions for nine years. His Potsdam teams went 72–2. When the Potsdam school decided to convert its gymnasium into classrooms, Ernest accepted a job at Passaic High School.
Passaic in 1915 was experiencing explosive growth, with a well-employed immigrant population producing a steady stream of children for the city’s schools. Ernest understood the opportunity. He began advocating for physical fitness training throughout the Passaic school system, and started scouting and grooming potential high school players while they were still in grammar school. As a coach, he encouraged a quick game with sharp, coordinated team play. At a time when offenses were built around two-handed set shots, Ernest taught his players hook shots and one-handers. On defense, the Passaic players pressed opponents from baseline to baseline.
The Passaic Hilltoppers were great from the start of Ernest’s tenure. They regularly doubled and tripled the scores of their rivals. Soon Passaic’s “Wonder Team” was making national headlines. They not only beat other high schools. They defeated college and semipro teams, as well. Ernest’s nine-year record was 200–1, and included seven state championships. From 1919 to 1925, the Hilltoppers reeled off 159 victories in a row. By the time the streak ended, Ernest had left the school. He often locked horns with principal Arnold D. Arnold, who believed the basketball team had become a distraction. So Ernest took a coaching position at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark. He spent 25 seasons at St. Benedict’s, fashioning a 421–128 record and won five private school titles.
Ernest passed away in 1955 at he age of 82. In 1960, he was one of the 10 inductees in the second class of the Basketball Hall of Fame.