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January 19, 2005

Trotter memories...

A story about the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in the Daily Oklahoman the other day brought back some memories to a couple of Perry ladies, Betty Andrews and Betty Ripley, and possibly to a few others. The story dealt with how an Oklahoma University graduate has helped the 'Trotters resume their role as clown princes of comics on the court. They are the kings, the ultimate funnymen and trick shot artists.

Betty Andrews remembers that the touring Globetrotters basketball entourage played a game here against a team of locals, whose roster included her late husband, Willard Andrews, and Betty Ripley's late husband, Joe Ripley. Exactly where the game was played and the final score really do not matter. Everyone expected the Globetrotters to win, and they obliged, mixing funny stuff with basketball trickery that delighted the crowd.

Willard and Joe were good athletes in several sports, but their team was no match for the barn-storming aggregation. It was primarily an exhibition of tricky stuff by the visiting team and they obliged the crowd with a fine demonstration of weird shots, peculiar dribbling, unorthodox passing and unusual basketball. This was in the 1940s when the NBA was not yet a cash cow. The AAU and the colleges were the basketball biggies and folks in hamlets the size of Perry relished the chance to see touring teams, like the Globetrotters, when their territory was invaded.

For example, Willard and Joe both were gainfully employed in legitimate daytime jobs but in the winter evenings, when basketball was the game of the season, they played for Harold Scovill's C&S Tire team and the local American Legion team. Both were active in a host of other community activities. No one remembers the score of the benefit game, but anyone who saw it would testify to the legitimacy of the visitors' victory.

The same issue of the Oklahoma City newspaper contains an interesting story about the saga of Jacob Hager, the outstanding PHS football player who went to OU on a football scholarship but switched to the wrestling team with the realization that the gridiron was not the place for him. He's doing all right, too, as the Sooners' rock-solid heavyweight. Keep an eye on him.