Arthur Matsu, William & Mary trailblazer and ‘gridiron hero’, honored in historical marker


Photo Courtesy – William & Mary

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A new historical marker in Virginia is honoring a William & Mary trailblazer and ‘gridiron hero.”

A new historical marker will honor Arthur “Art” Matsu ’27, William & Mary’s first known Asian American student and the first W&M alumnus to play for the National Football League. 

Gov. Northam announced Tuesday that Matsu’s marker is one of five new state historical highway markers that will highlight Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) history in Virginia.

“Throughout history, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made significant contributions to our Commonwealth and our country, but too often their stories remain untold,” Northam said in a release.

The AAPI Heritage Month Historical Marker Contest, which launched back in May, invites students, teachers, and families to learn more about Asian Americans who have made important contributions to Virginia history. The contest also let participants submit ideas for new historical markers to the Department of Historical Resources. 

Matsu has been hailed as William & Mary’s first “true gridiron hero.” A student leader and four-sport athlete, he earned national attention for his role as quarterback for the W&M football team.

Matsu went on to play in the NFL for the Dayton Triangles, and is thought to be one of the first Asian Americans — and the first W&M alumnus — to play in the NFL. He later coached football at Rutgers University.

In April, William & Mary announced that the Arcade at Cary Field, the arched walkway at Zable Stadium, will be named the Arthur A. Matsu Arcade in his honor. Matsu is currently one of the many trailblazers who is being recognized during the university’s Asian Centennial, which kicked off this spring.

Another one of the 5 markers will be in Virginia Beach honoring Filipino members of the U.S. Navy that have served in Hampton Roads since at least the Civil War.

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