Tuesday, April 20, 2021

1947-48 Kimberly Papermakers (WSBL)

1947-48 KIMBERLY PAPERMAKERS

WISCONSIN STATE BASKETBALL LEAGUE

1st Half: 6-6, .500, 4th place
2nd Half: 1-11, .083, 7th place


The Kimberly (Kimberley Recreation Association or KRA) team, aided by the three Van Cuyk brothers, had a decent first half of the season, winning half of their games. The second half would turn out to be disastrous, with a February 3 victory over Sheboygan being their only notch in the win column. Chris Van Cuyk, a minor league pitcher, was the high-scorer at 17.3 PPG. He would be named to the All-Star team, but failed to show for the All-Star game and on February 21 was suspended for the remainder of the season.

Head Coach:
  • Elmer Vander Velden (March 3, 1916 - November 7, 1995) Also played. See below

PLAYERS:

  • Sven Bowman (July 30, 1912 - November 22, 1980) 
  • Alan Dietzler (b. October 6, 1928)
  • Arnie Leaman (February 17, 1919 - October 25, 1998)
  • Bill Morris (June 24, 1923 - July 9, 2004)
  • Carl Schnese (March 3, 1928 - March 22, 2019)
  • Chris Van Cuyk (January 3, 1927 - November 3, 1992)
  • Frank Van Cuyk (July 15, 1924 - May 18, 1987)
  • John Van Cuyk (July 7, 1921 - July 10, 2010)
  • Elmer Vanden Boogaard (July 20, 1920 - October 2, 2009)
  • Jim Vanden Boom (October 7, 1925 - May 30, 1986)
  • Elmer Vander Velden (March 3, 1916 - November 7, 1995)
  • Francis Vander Velden (January 27, 1922 - February 6, 2008)
  • Driek Van Dyke (November 13, 1920 - March 29, 2011)
  • Red Williams (December 26, 1922 - November 8, 1994)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

1947-48 WSBL

Small in scope and geography but fairly decent in talent, the Wisconsin State Basketball League kicked off in the fall of 1947. Not to be confused with the lesser Wisconsin-Michigan Basketball League which ran at the same time, the WSBL consisted of  seven teams, and would split their season into two halves, with the winner of each half meeting in a championship series to be played in the spring of 1948.

The first half turned out to be competitive. The Manitowoc Braves and the New Holstein AC finished knotted at 9-3 and would play a one-game playoff to settle the first half champions. North Fond du Lac had started 6-2 befor esliding out of contention and finishing 3rd. The Plymouth Legionnaires would finish in last and would drop out after the first half. They would be replaced by a team from Neenah.  Manitowoc and New Holstein continued their battle for league supremacy in the second half. However, the new entry from Neenah would also make a run for the second half title. When the final game had been played, Manitowoc would win ten of twelve in the second half and finish one game ahead of New Holstein and Neenah.

The championship series would pit the second-half champ Manitowoc Braves against New Holstein, who won the playoff over Manitowoc for the first half title. In the best-of-three series, New Holstein would sweep the  Braves in two closely-fought games. Manitowoc's Art Edinger averaged 19.3 PPG, second behind New Holstein's Fritz Engel, who had 20.1 PPG. Engel had been attending the University of Wisconsin as a sophomore but was declared academically ineligible, clearing the way for him to play for New Holstein..


Teams
Kimberly Papermakers 
Manitowoc Braves
Neenah Bluejackets (played in second half only)
New Holstein Cheesemakers
North Fond du Lac Tigers
Plymouth Legionnaires (left after first half)
Sheboygan Dicks
Two Rivers Kriseas

Wisconsin State Basketball League (WSBL)

The Wisconsin State Basketball League has another basketball minor league that sprang up out of the post-war boom. Many states and regions were getting into basketball as the sport's popularity was growing.It lasted fur season before disbanding, but the reason I am looking at it is because it was the final league for the one-time major league team, the Oshkosh All-Stars. Oshkosh had been one of the premier teams of the National Basketball League, joining the circuit in 1937 and over their 12 seasons in the NBL would win the NBL title in 1941 and 1942 after three seasons of losing the finals. In 1949, after the All-Stars lost the NBL title to Anderson, the NBL merged with the BAA, and Oshkosh, being a smaller market, was not invited to join the new NBA, and the team looked to join the WSBL. They only played one season in the WSBl, the 1949-50 season, before disbanding for good. 

The WSB footprint is minor, with mainly local players making up the rosters, but since it was the final resting place of on of the earlier successful major league teams, I figured at four seasons, it was worth a look.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Milestone #13 - All-American Basketball League 1947-1951 (AABL)

The All-American Basketball League was another regional minor league that sprung up after World War 2. They did feature a few BAA/NBL cast-off players or coaches and had some moderate success before disbanding as so many minor leagues did as the NBA grew in strength. 

The AABL did get decent coverage by their local media so I was able to identify a lot of the players and record a lot of box scores, although a few players and boxes still elude me.

Here is the AABL by the numbers:


Number of AABL players: 264
Unidentified/unknown whereabouts:21 
Surviving AABL players: 7 assumed to be alive, but none are confirmed survivors. Of the 21 unknown, it is possible there are a few who are still with us.

Longevity:
Of the 264 players, 39 players (14.77%) lived to see the age of 90. 14 men (5.3%) died before the age of 50. (Numbers could obviously change as unknown players get identified.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

1950-51 Wheeling Blues (AABL)

1950-51 WHEELING BLUES

ALL-AMERICAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

18-6, .750, 1st place
Semi-Finals: Defeated Cumberland, 2-0
Finals: Defeated Erie, 3-0

The Blues, coached by Andy Tonkovich, rolled easily to their second AABL crown, going 18-6 in the regular season and swept their way throug hthe playoffs.  Lead by Eddie Sterling (20.3 ppg), stumbled out to a 2-3 start before rattling off 10 wins in a row. Tonkovich himself add 13 ppg.

Head Coach:
  • Andy Tonkovich (November 1, 1922 - September 2, 2006) Also played. See below

PLAYERS:
  • Ed Beach (January 25, 1929 - March 15, 1996)
  • Gene Britt (October 13, 1921 - November 29, 2004)
  • Joe Dougherty (March 17, 1928 - January 10, 2004)
  • Bill Feeney (February 7, 1924 - January 31, 1990)
  • Clyde Green (May 16, 1927 - December 8, 2002)
  • Pug Heinz (September 8, 1929 - November 11, 2018)
  • Jim Mohan (January 6, 1926 - March 14, 2011)
  • Bob Pelaez (November 10, 1925 - August 10, 2016)
  • Jim Springer (June 17, 1926 - February 19, 2018)
  • Eddie Sterling (October 31, 1925 - April 2, 1986)


1950-51 Johnstown Clippers (AABL)

1950-51 JOHNSTOWN CLIPPERS

ALL-AMERICAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

2-8 .200, withdrew January 24, 1951

Hailing from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the CLippers joined the AAB with pro basketball veteran Nat Hickey as coach. Hickey, a long-time star with the Original Celtics during the Depression, had most recently coached the Providence Steamrollers in the BAA. The team wound up struggling before being hit with the worst of tragedies.

The Clippers managed to be competitive, but more often on the wrong end of the score. They finished the 1951 calendar year with only two wins in 8 games, but only one loss was more than a ten-point defecit. Their worst beating of the season was on January 10, 1951, when they were pounded by the Wheeling Blues, 107-72, at the court of the West Virginia city. But that was not to be the worst part of that trip.

On the way back to Johnstown after the game, a car driven by Nat Hickey and carrying a few members of the team slid on an icy highway and crossed over into oncoming traffic. Chuck Karmarkovich, the team's leading scorer with 15 points per game, suffered a fractured skull and died early the next morning in the hospital. The team opted to take time off to grieve, but two weeks later decided to withdraw from competition.

Head Coach:
  • Nat Hickey (January 30, 1902 - September 16, 1979)
PLAYERS:
  • Jim Atkins (August 25, 1924 - March 10, 2012)
    • Al Bair (November 25, 1925 - October 8, 2014)
    • Harold Barr (September 6, 1928 - May 1, 1992)
    • Joe Camic (November 28, 1922 - April 3, 2011)
    • Eddie Dzubak (May 12, 1930 - February 21, 2018)
    • Jackie Joll (May 28, 1926 - November 19, 2019)
      • Chuck Karmarkovich (March 17, 1927 - January 11, 1951)
      • John Karpinski (May 5, 1923 - August 7, 2002)
      • Bill Pavlick (April 13, 1927 - November 11, 2014)
      • Jim Reynolds (February 21, 1926 - December 13, 2007)
      • Roberts   
        • Steve Slobozien (October 14, 1926 - January 4, 2013)
        • Mike Starchok (b. May 6, 1931)
        • Ed Tavalsky (November 11, 1926 - June 28, 2013)
        • Bill Vitale (b/ February 12, 1929)

        Tuesday, March 30, 2021

        1950-51 Erie Admirals (AABL)

        1950-51 ERIE ADMIRALS

        ALL-AMERICAN BASKETBALL LEAGUE

        11-6 .647, 2nd place
        Semi-finals: Defeated Beaver Falls, 2-1
        Finals: Lost to Wheeling, 3-0

        The Erie Admirals (also referred to as the Commodores at various points)  brought in veteran player Paul Birch to coach and he brought with him some new talent. Fred Schwab, Lennie Rhodes and Don McCullough were the top scorers as the club finished in second place. The battled a tough Beaver Falls club in the semifinals and were off to meet Wheeling for the championship. Unfortunately, Birch's crew was no match for the powerful Wheeling club, getting swept in the best-of-five series.

        Head Coach:
        • Paul Birch  (January 4, 1910 - June 5, 1982)  Also played. See below

        PLAYERS:
        • Moose Billingham (October 29, 1916 - December 21, 1998)
        • Frank Bohun (April 2, 1915 - February 19, 2014)
        • Mark Calak (October 15, 1923 - August 6, 2005)
        • Jim Farrell (April 25, 1924 - October 22, 2017)
        • John Lipchik (June 21, 1922 - February 13, 2011)
        • Donald McCullough (March 24, 1926 - March 13, 2021)
        • Lennie Rhodes (May 18, 1927 - October 18, 2014)
        • Bill Roach (b. September 25, 1927)
        • Fred Schwab (May 13, 1924 - January 28, 2008)
        • Naz Servidio (October 25, 1920 - February 1, 2003)
        • Steve Skendronch (September 9, 1925 - September 9, 2008)
        • George Washington (November 29, 1925 - December 9, 1971)
        • Jim White (June 3, 1929 - December 24, 2004)