Vintage Basketball Autographs

Hoop Stars of the Past -- 1920s thru 1960s

Harry "Big Hesh" Boykoff  (1922-2001)

Center—(St. John’s) Toledo Jeeps (NBL) 1947-48, Waterloo Hawks (NBL) 1948-49, Waterloo Hawks (NBA) 1949-50, Boston Celtics 1950, Tri-Cities Blackhawks 1951 [NIT MVP 1943, All-American 1943; 11.3 avg. (NBL), 10.1 avg. (NBA)]

Joe Lapchick deserves credit for making a player out of me.  When I came to St. John’s, I soon found out that I didn’t know much.  There were other tall guys around.  Lapchick showed me how to roll on a pivot play.  He taught me how to move around, how to draw out my guard.
    Harry Boykoff



Harry Boykoff autographed this 1943 Jack Sords cartoon.

Tom Burleson  (1952-    )

Center—(North Carolina State) Seattle Supersonics 1974-77, Kansas City Kings 1977-80, Atlanta Hawks 1980-81  [9.4 avg]



Tom Burleson autographed this 1972 Alan Maver cartoon in April 2011.  He signed two copies for me.

Mel Counts (1941-    )

Center—(Oregon State) Boston Celtics 1964-66, Los Angeles Lakers 1966-70, 1972-74, Phoenix Suns 1970-72, New Orleans Jazz 1974-76   [Olympic Games 1964 —Gold Medal;  8.3 avg]

I remember trying out for the [1964 Olympic] team. We had about six or eight tryout scrimmages. Everyone felt confident they were going to make the team, of course. As an athlete, you are conditioned mentally, emotionally, and physically to go out and give it your best shot. Of course, God has gifted some us more than others, but there's no substitute for work ethic. Everybody had an equal shot at it, and it just happened that the 12 players that were picked were the ones who made it.
    Mel Counts

Walt Davis (1931-    )

Center—(Texas) Philadelphia Warriors 1953-58   [4.8 avg]


Walter Dukes  (1930-2001)

Center—(Seton Hall) Harlem Globetrotters 1954-56, New York Knickerbockers 1955-56, Minneapolis Lakers 1956-57, Detroit Pistons 1957-63   [All-American 1953; Most Rebounds Single Season NCAA 1953: 734, NIT MVP 1953; 10.3 avg]

I played with Walter in Detroit, and we honestly feared him during layup drills.  He wouldn't hurt a flea intentionally. But when he'd get excited about getting a rebound — even during warm-ups -- he was liable to run over you.  It got so bad that Chuck Noble got a cowbell and put it around Walter's neck so we'd hear him coming when we were shooting around.
    George Yardley


Walter Dukes autographed this 1952 Alan Maver cartoon.

Clarence “Bevo” Francis  (1932-2015)

Center — (Rio Grande 1952-54) Cleveland Pipers (NABL) 1961-62, Boston Whirlwinds (NABL) 1954-55

He was one of those drum-beat stories.  You sit by the tree, you hear people talking about the great legends of the game, then you hear people talk about Bevo, yeah.
    John Thompson


The 6-foot-9, sweet-shooting Francis still holds the college record for most points scored in a game (113) and his 46.5 average in the 1953-54 season remains the NCAA Division II mark.  His 48.3 average in 1952-53 is the NAIA record. Actually, Francis averaged 50.1 that season, but a 116-point performance and 26 other games didn't count in the official NCAA and NAIA stats because they came against junior colleges, military bases and bible seminaries.  

Alex Groza  (1926-1995)

Center—(Kentucky) Indianapolis Olympians 1950-51; Coach—Kentucky Colonels (ABA) 1971, San Diego Conquistadors (ABA) 1975  [All-American 1947, NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player 1948-49; 22.5 avg.; Olympic Games 1948: gold medal]

Just before our season started, two of our stars — Alex Groza and Ralph Beard, who started opposite me at guard — got nailed for point-shaving.  They were banned for life from professional basketball.  All that happened during their college time.  It was a big downfall. . . .  They — Beard, Groza and Sherman white of LIU were the sacrificial lambs.  Some seven colleges and 34 players were initially named, but the three were truly the sacrificial lambs. . . .  The day after the all-star game we were scheduled to open the season in Tri-Cities against the Milwaukee Hawks. After the game was over, detectives came out with all their badges on, and newspaper guys, and, I mean, I never saw so many in all my life, photographers shooting pictures of the big bust.  They took five of our players down to the South Chicago Police station.  They were Beard, Groza, Barker, Holland and Herm Schaefer, our coach.  All night long they grilled Beard alternately with Groza.  They had a lot of evidence, especially from New York.   The names of gamblers and evidence tabs from the Copacabana nightclub were the two were entertained.  Actually Beard was the one that broke down and confessed at about six in the morning.  Groza had no other course to take, so he fell in line. . . .  We used to talk about the situation, and he often told me that if Beard had never said anything, he thought they could have beat the rap.  When you look at the money situation, it was reported that Groza made $2,000 to $2,500 a ballgame.  He was giving Beard $500 to $750 per game.
    Bill Tosheff


Alex Groza autographed this 1949 Alan Maver cartoon.

Groza was an all-America center for the championship Kentucky basketball teams of the late 1940's and a prominent figure in the game's biggest betting scandal.  Groza's brother, Lou, was a Hall of Fame tackle and place-kicker who starred for the Cleveland Browns.  Alex Groza, 6 feet 7 inches, parlayed size with quickness that, combined with the outside shooting of guard Ralph Beard, gave Kentucky a virtually unstoppable one-two punch. Led by the Fabulous Five — Groza, Beard, guard Kenny Rollins and forwards Wallace (Wah Wah) Jones and Cliff Barker — Kentucky was the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Olympic champion in 1948 and N.C.A.A. champion in 1949.  Groza finished with 1,744 points, which topped the Kentucky career list for 15 years after he left and still ranks seventh in school history.  Groza, Beard and four other Kentucky teammates then went into the National Basketball Association as the Indianapolis Olympians. Groza was second in scoring behind George Mikan with a 23.4 and 21.7 averages in his two seasons.  Before the start of the 1952 season, Groza and Beard were caught up in the widening point-shaving scandal that was rocking college basketball. Groza, Beard and a teammate, Dale Barnstable, admitted to conspiring to shave points in return for bribes from gamblers while at Kentucky. They received suspended sentences and their professional careers ended.  Groza later became general manager and coach of the Kentucky Colonels and general manager of the San Diego Conquistadors of the American Basketball Association. 

Lee "Rubberlegs" Guttero  (1912-2004)

Center—(Southern California)   [All-American 1934-35]


Lee Guttero autographed this 1935 Jack Sords cartoon.

Bill Hagler

Center—(California 1949-51) 



Hagler noted that "This drawing first appeared in the New York Sun, Tuesday 12/20/49 the day before we played New York University in Madison Square Garden."  He ended, "We lost."

Chick Halbert (1919-2013)

Center—(West Texas State) Chicago Stags 1946-47, Philadelphia Warriors 1947-48, Boston Celtics 1948-49, Washington Capitols 1949-50, Baltimore Bullets 1950-51   [8.8 avg]


Mel Hutchins  (1928-2018)

Center—(Brigham Young) Minneapolis Lakers 1951-53, Milwaukee Hawks 1953, Ft. Wayne Zollner Pistons 1953-57, New York Knickerbockers 1957-58   [NBA Rookie of the Year 1952, 11.7 avg]

We [Milwaukee Hawks] had Jack Nichols and Mel Hutchins, but the team didn’t do well. . . .  Mel Hutchins used to drive Mikan nuts.  He was about 6-6 but could jump.  He would watch Mikan, would wait and time his jump.  Mikan didn’t have that good of a hook shot.  He would kind of turn and shoot but not high in the air.  Mel would time it and just knock the ball away, and Mikan would get so damn mad at him he would want to  kill him.  I enjoyed Mel.  There was a little bar in Milwaukee we’d go to , not for any aggressive drinking, but to sit around and b.s.  On the road he was my roommate sometimes, but roommates were not regular, were catch as catch can.
    John Payak


Bob Kinney  (1920-1985)

Center/Forward—(Rice) Fort Wayne Pistons 1945-49, Boston Celtics 1949-50, Anderson Packers (NPBL) 1950-51 [All-American 1942]


I obtained this 3x5 Kinney-signed card on 3/7/14 in trade for an  autographed Warren Ajax cartoon.


Tom Lillis  (1935?-    )

Center—(St. Louis 1951-53)



Tom Lillis autographed this 1953 Tom Paprocki cartoon in December 2010.

James Banks McFadden  (1917-2005)

Center—(Clemson) [Converse All-American 1939; played pro football 1940]

McFadden was a standout at Clemson in football, basketball and track, earning three letters in each sport from 1936-40. He earned All-America honors in both basketball (1938-39) and football (1939) and was named the nation's most versatile athlete in 1939.  On the basketball court, McFadden led Clemson to the 1939 Southern Conference Tournament Championship, the only postseason tournament title in Clemson basketball history. The Tiger center was Clemson's top scorer each season and finished his career with a then Clemson record 810 points. 

Jack Parr  (1936-2015)

Center—(Kansas State) Cincinnati Royals 1958-59  [All-American 1958; 4.7 avg.]

I took him sight unseen and he took me sight unseen.  When I first got to see him play, I knew I had something.

      Tex Winter, Kansas State coach


Jack Parr autographed this 1958 Tom Paprocki cartoon.

Ray Patterson  (1922-2011)

Center—(Wisconsin 1942-45) Flint Dow A.C.'s (NBL)


Scored a total of 738 points with the Wisconsin Badgers in his four year basketball career.  Badger's Most Valuable Player, 1944 and 1945 and first team All-Big Ten Selection, 1944.  Played professionally with the Dow Chemical Basketball Team in Midland, Michigan, 1945-1948.  Part owner and president of the NBA Milwaukee Bucks, 1969-1972.  President and General Manager of the NBA Houston Rockets, 1972-1989.  NBA Executive of the Year, by the Sporting News, 1976-1977.  Retired from the Houston Rockets, 1990.  

Red Rocha (1923-2010)

Center/Forward—(Oregon State) St. Louis Bombers (BAA) 1947-49, St. Louis Bombers (NBA) 1949-50, Baltimore Bullets 1950-51, Syracuse Nationals 1951-56, Fort Wayne Pistons 1956-57; Coach—Detroit Pistons 1958-60 [12.4 avg. (BAA), 10.1 avg. (NBA), All Star 1951-52]



I traded a John "Brooms" Abramovich 3x5 autograph to an Arkansas collector for this Red Rocha 3x5 and a George Dempsey 3x5.

Chuck Share  (1927-2012)

Center—(Bowling Green) Waterloo Hawks (NPBL) 1950-51, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 1951-53, Milwaukee Hawks 1954-55, St. Louis Hawks 1955-59, Minneapolis Lakers 1960   [11.1 avg. (NPBL), 8.3 avg. (NBA)]

My third season ended with a game against the Knicks in New York.  We were out of the playoffs, our season was over.  We left Grand Central about 5 o’clock for the long train ride back to Chicago.  Most of us went to the club car to have a few drinks.  There was a feisty, little Chinese guy who had set up a bar at one end of the car where he made sandwiches and poured drinks.  We got to drinking pretty good, and after a couple of hours we found out somehow that in the next car there were a couple of striptease artists heading from Chicago.  So we made a deal with them.  If they’d come back to the club car and put on a little show, they could make some money.  They were good-looking girls with great bodies.  They agreed.  The game was on.  We had a ballplayer with us by the name of Charlie Share, a big and really a funny guy.  A great guy.  We got the girls in the car and shut the door.  All was set.  As the train was just about to pull lout of Utica, Charlie grabs the Chinese guy and virtually tosses him outside the back end of the club car while the train is starting to move out of the station.  I broke up laughing.  The Chinese guy was running down the tracks, trying to jump on the club car.  He didn’t make it.  Charlie went back to the bar, and started making sandwiches and drinks.  He collected the money, put it in the cash drawer, all legit.  We moved through a couple of cars where many businessmen were and got the word out that there was going to be a strip show at 8 o’clock.  Sure enough, by 8 o’clock all the guys came back and we charged them 5 bucks a head.  We must have had 50 guys in there.  Turned the radio on to some dance music, and the girls got up on a table doing a strip.  The patrons were breaking up.  We all were having a blast.  It ended about 9:30.  Everybody calmed down by 10 o’clock and departed the club car to sleep.  We pulled into Cleveland early in the morning.  I heard men talking all over the place.  I opened up the curtain in my little compartment, and there were railroad detectives with badges on, trying to find out who in the hell threw the Chinese guy off the club car in Utica.  It was like a big investigation.  Of course, they never got the right guy, but they kept us there for almost an hour before the train had to depart for Chicago.  We’re still breaking up.  Those business guys had had a blast, throwing money at those gals.  They made over 100 bucks apiece.  The food was completely gone, the booze, too.  Charlie Share made more money for the railroad that night then they did in many a trip.  It was a blast.
    Bill Tosheff


Charlie “Moose” Tyra (1935-2006)

Center—(Louisville) New York Knicks 1957-61, Philadelphia Tapers (NABL)   [NIT MVP 1956, All-American 1957; 8.9 avg.]


Walt Wesley (1945-    )

Center—(Kansas) Cincinnati Royals 1966-69, Chicago Bulls 1969-70, Cleveland Cavaliers 1970-72, Phoenix Suns 1972-73, Capital Bullets 1973-74, Philadelphia 76ers, 1974, Milwaukee Bucks 1974-75, Los Angeles Lakers 1975 [All-American 1966]




 Walt Wesley autographed this 1966 Tom Paprocki cartoon in Nov. 2014.

Paul Unruh (1928-    )

Center—(Bradley 1947-50) Peoria Cats (NIBL) 1951 [All-American 1950]

In the NIT we [Bowling Green] played Bradley, with Unruh and Melchiorre.  We were favored to win, which we did, but learned later that the fix was in and a substitute for them had screwed up by beating the point spread.  I’m reasonably certain none of our players was involved.
    John Payak



Paul Unruh autographed this 1950 Tom Paprocki cartoon in July 1990.