Black History Month – Celebrate, don’t hate

I wrote a story about the first black basketball players in Michigan City, Indiana, “The Patch Players: Basketball was a respite from life’s daily injustice,” and posted it to my website. To spread the word, I went on social media and shared the link on pages where people might be interested in it. One post went on a friendly Facebook page dedicated to Michigan City history.

“February is Black History Month,” I wrote. “Here is the story about the first black basketball players in Michigan City. Please check out the link and share it with friends. Thanks!”

Within one hour, one man commented, “What is it with this? When are we going to have White History Month?”

He didn’t care about the history or the story—he hadn’t read it and probably never will—but went straight to his antipathy for Black History. Why the hostility? And what would White History Month look like, anyway? Read More

The Patch Players – Basketball was a respite from life’s daily injustice

Dave Greer releasing a jump shot, 1953.

Dave Greer and I sat in his basement drinking coffee. Behind him was a wall covered with trophies: bowling trophies won by his wife, Vivian, his son and daughter’s awards from Rogers High School, a color silhouette of Greer in a basketball uniform. The largest one recognized Greer as an outstanding scholar-athlete at Elston High School.

Greer remembered the night he became the first area player to shoot a jump shot in a varsity basketball game. It was 1953 and many people considered a one-handed jump shot showboating. It was an away game at an all-white school.

“They called me all kind of negative names,” Greer said. “They called me everything but God. We were the only black thing in there,” referring to himself and teammates Bill Wright and Braelon Donaldson. “The word — never heard it so many times in one day.” Read More

Indiana Basketball Roots Aren’t Where You Thought They Were

Nicholas McCay, general secretary of the Crawfordsville YMCA, learned the game of basketball from the game’s founder, James Naismith, and brought it to Crawfordsville, Indiana. Subsequently, the first basketball game in Indiana was played on March 16, 1894 between the Crawfordsville and Lafayette YMCAs. Crawfordsville won, 45 – 21. That is why Crawfordsville is the birthplace of Indiana basketball.

Every good Hoosier knows it. We have repeated it a thousand times. But what if it weren’t true? Would that make you angry? Read More

LaPorte County Basketball Tourney – Can It Be Resurrected?

1946 LaPorte County Basketball Tourney.

Hoosiers are a little happier these days. Varsity girls and boys basketball are now in full swing. Decades ago, the happy feelings peaked with excitement during the LaPorte County Sectional. Every community wanted to see its team win, or to see David topple Goliath, but it was about communities meeting in one place and watching basketball together as much as anything. As the winner advanced to the Regional, everyone hoped they’d represent LaPorte County well. Read More

Stillwell’s Mightiest Viking

Look around and you will find amazing stories everywhere, tucked away, hoping to be discovered. Sometimes the stories require searching to flesh them out. Such was the case of a glass photo negative discovered in a box. The player wearing number eleven was Leon Antrim. Leon grew up in Stillwell, Indiana. He and his teammate, Clarence Spier, were photographed in the LaPorte Civic Auditorium on March 5, 1937. But, why? Read More