Remembering Emerson Baynard

Emerson Baynard, Chester High School, 1961


By Harry Chaykun

Emerson Baynard is arguably one of the finest basketball players the city of Chester has produced. His legendary career is remembered by those who followed his performances in the late 1950s and early 1960s with awe.

His storied high school career has intrigued noted Delco author Jack Lemon to the extent that Mr. Lemon has decided to write a book about Emerson’s glory days. He has embarked on interviewing teammates, opponents, and fans who were aware of Emerson’s skills.

One such interview took place when Mr. Lemon contacted the retired and iconic University of Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan. Bo himself had an outstanding Chester High basketball career while wearing the same number that Em wore – 42.

During the interview Bo learned that Emerson Baynard’s grave site in Haven Memorial Cemetery is unmarked. Bo took pause and made the offer to help raise the funds needed so that Emerson could have a proper memorial. He said that if others felt similarly, he would match the funds donated so that a fitting memorial could be installed.

In the event that the funds raised were to exceed the cost of the memorial selected by the management of Haven Memorial Cemetery, those additional funds would be shared equally by the Chester Boys and Girls Club and the Chester Biddy Basketball League.

Any party interested in making a donation to this cause should send a check to the Sports Legends of Delaware County (SLDC) Museum, which is located at 301 Iven Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087. Donors should note that the money is to be used for the Emerson Baynard memorial fund.

For more information, contact Jim Vankoski at 610-909-4919 or by email

In a 1997 article, former Daily Times sports editor Ed Gebhart said it best for all of us who saw the Big Em play when he wrote:

 “The Emerson Baynard I will remember will leap high into the air and ferociously snatch a rebound with one hand and smack it into the palm of the other. He will begin that deceptive lope down the court before throwing those fakes … head fakes, shoulder fakes, hip fakes. Suddenly, he’ll lift that magnificent body far above the defender and let fly, ever so delicately, a jump shot. As the ball settles into the net, he’ll head back up the court, pumping his fist and flashing that little smile we all knew so well. And I will cry a little, too, for the glory that was and for the glory that might have been.”