Forward—(Salem College) Pittsburgh Ironmen (BAA) 1946-47, St. Louis Bombers 1947, Baltimore Bullets 1947, Syracuse Nationals 1947-48 [All-American 1943, first player to reach 2,000 career points in college (2,170); 9.5 avg (NBA), 5.3 avg (NBL)]
We loved the game and played from the heart in those days because there sure wasn’t any money in it. I got my nickname, “Brooms,” from the family business. We had started manufacturing corn brooms in 1921 in Etna, Pennsylvania, where I graduated high school in 1937. For two years I worked in the plant, and then through my old high school coach I was offered a scholarship at Salem College in West Virginia. It was a small school but played a big-time schedule. We played against Duquesne in Pittsburgh and West Virginia University at Morgantown. After my freshman year, Cam Henderson wanted me to transfer to Marshall, but I didn’t want to sit out a year; I wanted to graduate on schedule, which I did in ‘43. Then came two years and eight months in the service with the Gene Tunney V7 program, and when I got out I was invited to play for the Pittsburgh Ironmen. I hadn’t given any thought to playing pro ball, but it was the local team so I thought I’d give it a shot.
This Ciri cartoon appeared in newspapers in 1943. In 2010 I traded this 3x5 card to a collector specializing in the Syracuse Nationals for Red Rocha and George Dempsey autographs. I also have a 2-page letter from Abramovic dated Aug. 9, 1991 (his signature on the letter is shown here).
John, or "Brooms" as everyone knew him, made a tremendous mark in the basketball world. As a junior and senior at Salem College in West Virginia (1942-1943), he led the entire nation in scoring. He averaged nearly 30 points per game, which was unheard of at that time. He made First Team All American in 1942 and 1943 and still holds the Salem College record of most points in a game (57), and in the season (777). He was the first player In college history to score 2,000 points in a career. After spending three years in the Navy during World War 11, he signed and went on to play professional basketball for several teams in the National Basketball League, and the Basketball Association of America. He was inducted into the West Virginia and the Pennsylvania Sports Halls of Fame. In addition to his basketball career, John played professional baseball and also was an avid golfer and bowler during his lifetime.
Forward/Center—(Arkansas) Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL) 1942-43 [0.7 avg.; played pro football 1942-44,1946-47]
O'Neal Adams was one of several who autographed this 1944 New York Giants football program which was given to me by former NFL player, Rusty Kane.
Forward—(Purdue) Akron Goodyear Wingfoots (BAA) 1940-42
Gene Anderson autographed this 1938 Jack Sords cartoon.
Forward—(Maryland) Washington Heurichs (ABL) 1938-39 [All-American 1931-32; played ML baseball 1932, 1935-39]
See video clip of Louis Berger in a 1932 All-American motion picture.
Forward—(Cincinnati) Boston Celtics 1964-66, Indiana Pacers (ABA) 1967-68 [All-American 1963; 6.3 avg (NBA), 5.8 avg (ABA)]
The Celtics were a family. As a rookie, I was considered an outsider. But all that changed once I made the team. At that point I became part of something truly special.
Forward—(Illinois) Chicago Packers 1961-62 [All-American 1957, Pan American Games 1959]
George BonSalle autographed this 1957 Tom Paprocki cartoon in March 2010.
Forward—(Notre Dame 1941) Denver Nuggets (AAU) 1947-49, New York Knickerbockers 1949-54; Coach—New York Knickerbockers 1956-58 [Olympic Gold Medal 1948, All-American 1949; 11.2 avg, 285 games]
I've been in Denver since 1947, and never left. When I first came to Denver, everybody was talking to me in Italian. They found out soon enough that I'm Polack.
This Tom Paprocki cartoon appeared in newspapers in November 1949.
Forward—(Bradley) Detroit Pistons 1958-60, Syracuse Nationals 1959-61, Chicago Packers 1961-62, St. Louis Hawks 1961-63, Baltimore Bullets 1963-64 [6.6 avg]
Barney Cable autographed this 1958 Tom Paprocki cartoon in November 2010. He also sent me a couple of 3x5 autographs and the small photo of him when he played for the Chicago Packers, signed on the reverse side of the photo.
Power Forward/Center—(Wake Forest) Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers 1962-63, New York Knicks 1963-66, Chicago Bulls 1966, Cincinnati Royals 1966-67, Detroit Pistons 1967-68, Milwaukee Bucks 1968-70, Cleveland Cavaliers 1970, Atlanta Hawks 1970-71, Dallas Chaparrals (ABA) 1971-72 [All American 1962, NBA All Star 1964]
Len Chappell autographed this 1962 Alan Maver cartoon in April 2011.
Forward—(Loyola/Canisius) Syracuse Nationals (NBA) 1950-51, Elmira Colonels (ABL) 1951-52 [2.9 avg (NBA), 8.0 avg (ABL)]
They [Syracuse] gave me a $1,200 bonus for signing and a contract for $3,800. I got another $1,800 in the playoff pool. My job was to move the ball, take the shot when you got it. There was no 24-second clock. If we were winning by 10 points, you couldn't beat us. In the last two minutes, you got two shots on every foul. But you could shoot the first one, and get the ball out of bounds on the second. Teams couldn't come back.
Leroy Chollet autographed this 1949 Alan Maver cartoon.
Forward/Center—(Iowa) Bartlesville Phillips 66ers (AAU) 1952-57 [NIBL All-Star 1952-57, NIBL MVP 1954-55, Olympic Games 1956—Gold Medal]
Chuck Darling autographed this 1952 Tom Paprocki cartoon in January 2011.
Forward—(Stanford 1942, Penn) Philadelphia Warriors 1946-49 [All-American 1945, NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player 1942; 9.6 avg., All League 1948, #1 Assists 1948]
In one of those playoff games [in 1948], against a tremendous Philadelphia team, I knocked two of their players, Joe Fulks and Howie Dallmar, up in the stands. Fulks got burned by a man smoking a cigar, and Dallmar was cut when he collided with a fan holding a soda pop bottle. It was a tough battlefield.
Howard Dallmar autographed this 1945 Al Pierotti cartoon.
Forward—(Indiana) Cincinnati Royals 1958-59, Detroit Pistons 1959-61, Chicago Zephyrs 1961-62 [8.1 avg]
Forward—(Valparaiso) Hammond Ciesar All-Americans (NBL) 1940-41, Detroit Falcons 1946-47 (NBA) [3 games, 6.3 avg. (NBL), 57 games, 5.2 avg. (NBA)]
Bob Dille autographed this 1945 Jack Sords cartoon.
Forward—(Illinois) [set Illinois single-game scoring record with 53 points at Indiana on Feb. 16, 1963]
Dave Downey autographed this 1963 Tom Paprocki cartoon in February 2011.
Forward—(Purdue) Chicago Zephyrs 1962-63, Baltimore Bullets 1963-64, Detroit Pistons 1964-71, Portland Trailblazers 1972-73 [All-American 1961-62; Olympic Games 1960—Gold Medal; 13.8 avg, Gottlieb Trophy 1963]
If anybody wanted to copy someone's career in terms of ability and attitude, it would be Terry Dischinger. He is very intelligent and knows the right things to work for in life.
Terry Dischinger autographed this 1960 Tom Paprocki cartoon.
Dischinger, a Purdue power forward, led the Big 10 in scoring every season he played, averaging 28.3 points a game from 1960-1962. He was a three-time All-American and started for the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medalists. He was the NBA's 1963 Rookie of the Year as a member of the Chicago Zephyrs.
Forward—(Loyola, Chicago) Syracuse Nationals (NBA) 1953-54 [2 games, 4 pts., 2.0 avg, 12 min.]
Ed Earle autographed this 1950 Tom Paprocki cartoon.
Forward—(Hamline) Boston Celtics (BAA) 1946-47 [0.0 avg., 1 game; played in NFL 1942,1946]
At Hamline, he lettered in football, baseball, and basketball, and was captain of the 1940 Hamline football team. He majored in history. In 1942, he played professional football for the Brooklyn Dodgers, both a football and baseball team at the time. Following his service in World War II, he played football for the Boston Yanks and basketball with the Boston Celtics.
Forward/Center—(Wisconsin) Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL) 1941-44,1946-49, Brooklyn Indians (ABL) 1943-44; Player/Coach—Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL) 1949 [All-American 1941; 10.4 avg. (NBL), 3.0 avg (ABL)]
I was physical with everybody. I think I fouled out of more ballgames than anyone else in the league. I wasn't dirty, mind you, but I didn't step aside from anything.
Gene Englund autographed this 1941 Jack Sords cartoon.
Englund was the center on the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team which won the NCAA title in 1941. Englund was an all-Big Ten selection in 1940 and 1941 and later played for the Boston Celtics of the NBA. After his playing career, he was a basketball official in the Big Ten and the NBA. Englund led the Badgers with 13 points in the 39-34 win over Washington State in the NCAA title game. After his UW career, Englund starred for the Oshkosh All-Stars, who won the 1942 world championship.
Forward—(Notre Dame) Cleveland Rebels (BAA) 1946-47 [ 6.7 avg, 343 pts., 51 games]
Small Forward—(Oregon State) St. Louis Hawks 1958-59, Cincinnati Royals 1959-60, Syracuse Nationals 1960-63, Philadelphia 76ers 1963-67, San Diego Rockets 1967-68, Milwaukee Bucks 1968, Detroit Pistons 1969, San Francisco Warriors 1969-70 [8.9 avg]
Dave Gambee autographed this 1958 Tom Paprocki cartoon in April 2010.
Forward/Guard—(Northwestern/Colgate) Rochester Royals (NBL) 1945-46 [All-American 1944; 5.2 avg.; played pro football 1946-55, NFL head coach 1966-68]
Graham was a fine ball handler but he couldn't shoot from the outside I was criticized for benching him but the move worked out. Those other three guys were pretty fair players [Davies, Cervi and Holzman are all members of the National Basketball Hall of Fame] and we won the title.
Graham arguably was the most-heralded pro athlete ever to wear a Rochester uniform, even if it wasn't in his best sport. Graham was a member of the 1945-46 Rochester Royals in that team's National Basketball League debut. The former football-basketball All-American at Northwestern finished the season as an expensive reserve as the Royals won the championship. Graham started around 20 games early that season but gradually lost playing time to fellow guards Bob Davies, Al Cervi and Red Holzman. Graham already had a contract with the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference when he signed with the Royals and made his pro football debut in the fall of 1946. For the next decade, he never had to worry about being benched by coach Paul Brown.
Forward—(Minnesota) Minneapolis Lakers (NBA) 1949-51 [2.6 avg.; played pro football 1951-52, NFL head coach 1967-74]
Bud Grant and I roomed together in Minneapolis. He and Slater Martin were opposites. We used to have great card games, but Bud was his conservative self even in those days. He wasn’t happy with the Lakers because he was a football player, basically. He was a very well-known figure in Minneapolis, well thought of, and he kept getting an offer to play with the Philadelphia Eagles. But he didn’t think he was big enough to play in the NFL and he weighed 225. This was when they first came out with tight ends — tight end wasn’t even the name yet — but he finally went. He wrote back to me and said, “Kev, this is the greatest racket in the world. You gotta come and play this football. You work out in August, you make the club, you don’t even put the pads on again until the Sunday that you play. All you do is run around during the week, run through some drills in shorts. And on Sunday, if you actually play more than 10 or 12 minutes, that’s a long time. The greatest thing is, you fly to the game the night before and you fly home right after. You’re not even away from home but one night a week.”
Forward/Guard—(Ohio State) Indianapolis Kautskys (NBL) 1948, Sheboygan Redskins (NBA) 1949-50 [2.7 avg.; played major league baseball 1945-46]
Forward—(Wake Forest) Boston Celtics 1955-57 [138 games, 5.2 avg.]
Dick Hemric autographed this 1955 Tom Paprocki cartoon in December 2009.
Vernon Huffman autographed this 1937 Jack Sords cartoon.
Center/Forward—(Minnesota) Minneapolis Lakers 1954-57 [6.8 avg]
Ed Kalafat autographed this 1952 Tom Paprocki cartoon in December 2010.
Forward—(Wisconsin) Sheboygan Red Skins (NBL) 1946 [All-American 1942, NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player 1941; 11 games, 6.7 avg.]
When we saw him in high school, we knew he was someone we wanted very badly. He not only had that shot, but he was a great defensive player. He had great hands, and though he wasn't fast, he had very quick feet. Nobody ever took advantage of him defensively.
University of Wisconsin
Forward/Center—(Illinois/Western Kentucky) Indianapolis Olympians 1950-53, Milwaukee Hawks/Syracuse Nationals 1953-54 [All-American 1949-50; 8.2 avg, 2156 pts.]
During my last year [at Western Kentucky], ‘49-50, I was contacted by the people up in Rochester, New York, as I had made a pretty good record. I also got a telegram from the Indianapolis Olympians, advising me that I was their No. 1 draft choice and would be getting in touch with me that summer to discuss a contract. It was a team made up at that time of five players from Kentucky — Ralph beard, Alex Groza, Joe Holland, Cliff Barker and Wah Wah Jones — who had been on the Olympic team in 1948. So we started our first year with Indianapolis in 1950. I got a $2,000 bonus and a $6,000 contract. We were thrilled to death but we were sorry to lose out on the offer of a new Dodge that would have been part of the Rochester deal. . . . We arrived in Indianapolis in a ‘46 Ford, pulling all our possessions on a flatbed trailer hooked onto the bumper. It was slow going because the car went one way and the trailer the other. We checked into a motel with $10 left in our pocket and I proceeded to go down to the offices of the Olympians, told them of our plight, and they advanced me some money to get a house or apartment, and that’s how my pro career started.
Forward—(Oregon) Boston Celtics 1955-64 [6.2 avg]
We used to have a lot of fights. Real fights. But no one ever made a big deal about it because it happened all the time. When we played, we just banged it out underneath. I'll tell you what type of player I was. If somebody stood in my way, I'd knock them down. Even if they didn't stand in my way, but if they were bothering another player, they'd have to deal with me. Red (Auerbach) didn't tell me to play that way. I knew that was my role. That's not the way I played in college, but in the pros it was different. I quickly got the reputation as a guy not to mess with.
Power Forward/Center—(Western Kentucky) Carolina Cougars (ABA) 1971-72, Seattle SuperSonics (NBA) 1972-74, Snaidero Udine (Italy) 1974-75, Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) 1975-76, Kentucky Colonels (ABA) 1976, Buffalo Braves (NBA) 1977-78 [ABA 16.6 avg., NBA 2.2 avg.]
Jim McDaniels autographed this 1971 Alan Maver cartoon in December 2010.
Forward—(Temple) Philadelphia Warriors 1952-53 [#1 Scoring NCAA 1951, All-American 1951; 6'4", 31 games, 5.8 avg.]
In his junior year, he was the best basketball player in the country. I was a senior in high school, and I would go to Convention Hall to watch Temple play. Bill would take one step over half court and he'd let it fly. No one did it better.
This Tom Paprocki cartoon appeared in newspapers in January 1951. In his letter, Mlkvy wrote: "You are right. Quite a surprise to see something like this after these many years. Since then I graduated from dental school and practiced for 25 yrs. I retired 10 yrs ago and started a little medical company. I served in the Army as a Major in the dental Corp and spent some time in Korea. I've had a wonderful and blessed life. I thought you would be interested to know what happened to some of these 'old time' jocks."
Forward—( ) New Orleans Buccaneers (ABA) 1967-68, Oakland Oaks (ABA) 1968-69, Carolina Cougars (ABA) 1969-70, Virginia Squires (ABA) 1970-72; Coach—San Antonio Spurs 1976-80, Denver Nuggets 1981-90 [16.3 avg; 628 wins/529 losses, .543; NBA Coach of the Year 1988]
My big advantage over other people is that I've always been less mature than my age. Even though my body is old and I can barely walk, mentally I'm still 12.
Forward/Center—(Illinois/Northwestern) Chicago American Gears (NBL) 1946-47, Sheboygan Red Skins (NBL) 1948-49, Sheboygan Redskins (NBA) 1949-50 [All-American 1946; 8.8 avg.; played pro football 1946-48]
This Jack Sords cartoon appeared in newspapers in February 1945.
Morris wrote: "Thanks for your letter--I don't get many requests like this after all these years. Yes, Mel I did play professional football and basketball after I graduated. 3 yrs football with the Chicago Rockets and Brooklyn Dodgers and 5 years basketball with the Chicago Gears (with Geo Mikan) and Sheboygan Redskins. This was the NBA of its day. Good luck."
Forward—(Duke) St. Louis Hawks 1964-66, San Francisco Warriors 1966-71, Golden State Warriors 1971-76 [All-American 1963-64; Olympic Gold Medal 1964; All Star 1969-71]
Forward—(Kentucky) Los Angeles Lakers/San Francisco Warriors 1964-65, Kentucky Colonels (ABA) 1967-68 [All-American 1964; 3.0 avg (NBA), 8.5 avg (ABA); played major league pro baseball 1967, 1969-70]
In the spring after my graduation, I had on the table an acceptance from dental school for the following semester and two professional sports contracts. I had three directions I could go, and, at the time, I was nuts enough to think I could go all three. My definition of luck is when preparation meets the opportunity. That's when luck always occurs in my life. When I [played baseball and basketball], I did it simultaneously. That involved more mental conditioning to get yourself up seven days a week, 36 days a year. In pro sports, if you have a couple of lousy games, you can lose your job. The mental stress of having to stay at your highest level all the time was the toughest part of it.
Forward—(Michigan) [All-American 1927-28]
Bennie Oosterbaan, probably as much as anyone, typifies the great tradition of Michigan athletics, as a player, as a coach, as a gentleman and a very bright guy.
Oosterbaan, a native of Muskegon, Mich., was a three-sport varsity athlete at Michigan in the 1920s, lettering in football, basketball and baseball. He led the Big Ten in touchdowns in 1925 with eight. He also was an All American in basketball, leading the conference in scoring in 1928, and topped the Big Ten in hitting in baseball. Oosterbaan never left the university, becoming an assistant coach in 1928 and staying there until taking over as head coach in 1948. During his 11 years as head coach, Michigan won three Big Ten championships and one Rose Bowl victory, compiling a 66-33-4 record. The Wolverines were 9-0 in 1948, the last time they won a national title.
Forward—(Holy Cross) Boston Celtics 1954-56, Syracuse Nationals 1956-60 [NIT MVP 1954; 7.4 avg]
Togo Palazzi . . . came over from Boston in 1957. We were back in Boston, playing Philadelphia in a double-header game, when Togo came off the bench and was so hot that he had a chance to set an NBA fourth-quarter scoring record. I called timeout to set up a play for a shot that would break the record. We ran the play, freed Togo for a layup, and as he released the shot Joe Graboski came over and blocked the shot. After the game, I said to Joe, “Why’d you do that?” He said, “That was my record he was gonna break.”
See video clip of Togo Palazzi in the 1954 College All Star game.
Forward/Center—(Illinois) Baltimore Bullets 1953-54, Milwaukee Hawks 1953-54, New York Knicks 1954-56 [4.7 avg]
Bob Peterson autographed this 1952 Tom Paprocki cartoon in December 2010.
Forward—(North Carolina) Philadelphia Warriors 1957-59 [All-American 1957]
Forward—(USC) New York Knicks 1962-65, San Francisco Warriors 1965 [6.0 avg]
Forward—(Northwestern) Chicago Stags (NBA) 1947-48, Detroit Vagabond Kings (NBL)—Waterloo Hawks (NBL) 1948-49 [37 games, 1.5 avg. (NBA); 53 games, 6.8 avg. (NBL)]
Forward/Guard—(Kansas) Providence Steamrollers 1949, St. Louis Bombers (BAA) 1948-49 [9.0 avg.; played pro football 1948-53]
Forward—(Santa Clara) San Francisco Olympic Club (AAU) 1955, New York Knickerbockers 1955-61, San Francisco Warriors 1962-64
He's a very quiet, unassuming guy. They stressed a team game in those days, and he got his points through the offense. But he was the first big guy that I can remember that could play inside or out. He could hook with either hand, was a good defender and a great passer. He was really a skilled guy, way ahead of his time.
Small Forward/Shooting Guard—(Davidson) St. Louis Hawks 1966-68, Phoenix Suns 1968-69, Seattle SuperSonics 1969-74,1978-79, Cleveland Cavaliers 1974-77 [12.2 avg]
Dick Snyder autographed this 1966 Alan Maver cartoon in April 2011.
Forward—(Creighton) St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks 1964-69, Phoenix Suns 1969-72, Boston Celtics 1972-76, Denver Nuggets 1976-77, Seattle SuperSonics 1977-80; Coach—San Diego Clippers 1980-83, Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets 1998-2003, Cleveland Cavaliers 2003-5, Charlotte Bobcats 2010- [NBA All Star 1972, 1975, NBA All-Defensive 1st Team 1975-76, 9.4 avg.]
It was tough. I was playing backup center and [starter] Zelmo Beatty beat the heck out of me. I was just thrilled to be able to play. I got a lot of time because I could rebound and not many rookies were playing in the league at that time. I learned a lot working with Bob Pettit. He used to play [power forward] and I would play [center] and when we'd play against Wilt Chamberlain, he'd take the front and I'd take the back. At the time, Bob Pettit made $50,000. I thought, “Boy, if I could make $50,000 in my career the world would come to an end.”
Forward/Center—(Hofstra) Fort Wayne Pistons 1956-57, Detroit Pistons 1957-58 [4.7 avg]
Bill Thieben autographed this 1954 Tom Paprocki cartoon.
Forward—(Seton Hall 1962-64)
Forward/Guard—(Colgate) New York Knicks 1949-56
I remember Ernie Vandeweghe, who was in medical school when he played for the Knicks. He could make most games at home and some on the road. Once he dressed in the toilet on a DC-3 on his way to Indianapolis to play the Olympians. Lapchick saw him coming into the arena and waved him right into the game. He reported onto the floor and immediately called timeout so he could tie his shoes. That the kind of warm-up he had.
Forward—(Purdue) Indianapolis Kautskys (NBL) 1938-39 [All-American 1937-38, NBL Rookie of the Year 1938-39]
Jewell Young autographed this 1937 Art Krenz cartoon.
Young was a three-time Big 10 scoring champ for Purdue in the late-1930's and was elected to both the Purdue and the state of Indiana's Hall of Fames. He was named outstanding athlete of the year in 1938 and after his playing career and a stint in the Navy, coached high school basketball in Indianapolis from 1946-54 before entering the business world.