Thursday, December 02, 2010

THE GREATEST GAME IN THE WORLD - PART 1

Since I am a Hoosier, the game is obviously basketball.  And I am not talking about pro basketball [truly a perversion of the game] or even most of Division I basketball [where many of the players have unfounded dreams of playing in the NBA].  Rather, I am talking about the game where all 5 players work together as a team.  Occasionally this happens in the NBA, like when Carmelo gets tossed from a Nuggets game and the rest of the players actually have to work together if they hope to win.  It happens at the college level, a whole lot more in Division II and Division III where the players do not have their minds fixated on the pros but rather are playing for the love of the game.  It happens in high schools, again in places where the players are not focused on the next level but on winning at the HS level.  And it happens in the pick-up games where former high school and college players get together not to showcase their individual talents but rather to demonstrate their knowledge and skills of playing the game as a team.

Considering my current age and when I first remember playing b ball, I believe that I have been playing the game for over 55 years.  At New Paris Grade School [which was demolished to make way for apartments], the gym was a glorified chicken coop.  It had a nice sized wooden floor court with no room around the edges.  Right inside the main door was a huge coal/wood fired stove that would eventually heat the building, but in the wintertime, it was always frigid when you went out for first recess.  By noontime and afternoon recess, it was bearable.  Our fifth grade team won a county school tournament, with the celebration being able to have a cake during class time.  Our sixth grade team also won the tournament, and we got a little cocky.  We challenged the seveth graders to a game, and we won.  It went to our heads, and we challenged the eighth grade team - bad decision considering the developmental differences betweeen sixth grade boys and eighth grade boys - we got thumped.

On weekends during the winter, we were always looking for a place to play - sometimes it would be the upper level of the barn at Bobby Roth's farm where we had to sweep the hay off of the floor and play with gloves; sometimes it would be at the Goshen College gym where we had to sneak in because the gym was always locked up on Sundays; and sometimes it would be outdoors if the weather wasn't too bad.  In the summertime, the favored playing spot was Rogers Park in Goshen.  There were lights on the courts, so after a long day of work we would head to the park and play ball well into the night, often past midnight.  The A&W Root Beer stand and Bowers Drive-In stayed open late, so we could always get something to eat and drink after playing.

The New Paris High School Class of 1964 was a very talented group - from 5th grade through 12th grade, we probably didn't lose more than a dozen games.  We played in a cracker-box sized gym that was very reminiscent of the movie Hoosiers.  The seats came right down to the edge of the playing floor, and because there was screaming for most of the game, one's ears would ring for hours.  We won the county tourney twice, but seemed to not be able to make is past Elkhart's Blue Blazers in the sectional tourneys.  Of course, Elkhart High School had over 3000 in three grades, and our NPHS class had 44.  Our class also did well in band and chorus competitions, in 4H, and in most anything competitive.  Our class also sent an unprecedented percentage of graduates on to college.  Here's a pic from our 1964 Parisian yearbook and Goshen News:




The caption reads:  The 1963 New Paris Cubs were 21-3 for the best record in school history.  They also won the Elkhart County tourney.  In front, from left, are Fred Schrock, Lonnie Clem, head coach Jim Hettler, Phil Weybright, Keith Hummel, and Bob Lundy.  In back are manager Roger Hummel,  Stan Myers, Tom Mishler, Steve Hoffman, Dennis Caprarotta,  Doug Swartzendruber, manager Rich Kirkdorffer and assistant coach Terry Rickard.

During our sophmore year in high school, the varsity was 19 and 3 and our junior year we went 20 and 3.  So for the three years, we were 60 and 9.  I did not contribute a whole lot at the varsity level, although I did score 19 in one game.  The back row folks in the picture above were known as the "minute-men" because that is about how much we got to play in most games :-)

{To Be Continued}


13 comments:

Keith Hummel said...

Not certain I can add much except as Freshman we had a 19-2 record and won the JV County Tornament 2 years in a row in addition to the 2torunament wins as Jr and Sr. The other thing that sticks out in my mind is a loss to Goshen each of the 4 years. You may remember that our Sr. year the loss was in double overtime that included a questionable call. Sorry I can not add much more but do remember the BB experience as a neat experience.

Ron Bowman said...

My memories of B Ball are a lot of yelling from the bleachers wearing our ties and button up sweaters. I very conveniently forgot about all the losses to Goshen that Keith mentioned.

Bob Lundy said...

NPHS was a wonderful experience and B Ball was a highlight. I too had forgotten about our losses to Goshen; thanks to Keith! I recall the long bus rides in the snowy winter conditions particularly the long ride home from Culver (not sure if I have that correct)as we lost that game. In addition to the games I remember all the practice sessions and good fun we had with pick-up games in the park in Goshen as well as the occasional game at Fred’s house as well as Annie Smoker’s driveway. Is Lonnie Clem the only one of the team that is no longer with us? Did someone say our b ball record was the best in NPHS history?

Dr S said...

Gentlemen - thanks for your recollections. A couple of more things came to mind about those days. When I played on the B team, I also played in the pep band. So at half-time, I would head to the locker room, grab my coronet, play some songs including Frat, our fight song, then head back to the locker room to get ready for the second half. I also remember the A team "march" out of the gym to the locker room during the second half, between the third and fourth quarters I believe.

Dr S said...

Bob - I should have added some info regarding your questions. Yes - Lonnie passed away on February 8, 2006 in Syracuse. My understanding is that Stan Myers also passed away.

Our senior year record of 21-3 was indeed the best in the history of NPHS. I believe our old high school building became the grade school after the Fairfield consolodation, and it is now home to a Bible school/college.

Phil Weybright said...

I have found this great website for HS Basketball in Northern Indiana, and maybe he can put it in his blog. The guy who composed it is Earl Mishler from Culver, Indiana. He played baseball at Culver and only had the use of one hand. I remember playing against him my freshmen or sophomore year in high school. He played 1st base and would catch and throw with the same hand. Anyway he loved sports and has always followed the sports scene in Indiana for years - and still does. The site to go to is ET Pearls Corner. Just google etpearl.com and it should get you there. There is all kind of information, but go to the history section and you could spend several hours looking up New Paris, Goshen, Millersburg, Nappanee, ARGOS - one of my personal favorites, and lots of other schools from the 30's through today. By the way I have never forgotten the Goshen game our Senior year. I was the Klutz who scored the potential winning basket but was called for traveling. OUCH it still hurts!!!! Phil

Richard Kirkdorffer said...

I remember basketball as it was played then and it was a great game. The way men's basketball is played today is very different than when we were in High School. Admittedly, the athletic ability, skill level and size of the players in the men's game has increased immensely, but has that improved the game. Starting at the pro level and carrying down to all levels, the game has become a one on one game where travling is hardly ever called, there is all kinds of contact and fouls are called on the basis of who does it to who instead of what is done.

I have season tickets and enjoy watching D-1 Women's Basketball where the type of game where no one dunks the ball, traveling is called, fouls are called on a more consistnt basis,and offense is created from a play with a series of passes rather than someone going one on one and dunking the ball over someone.

With the skill level of the women's game as it is today, I assume our team would have not been competetive with Connecticut or Tennessee but have been somewhere between there and women's high school basketball

Dr S said...

Rich - I agree with almost everything that you say, except your last comment. Not too long ago I was among a group of ragtag noontime b ball players who scrimmaged against the DI Pepperdine women. We pretty much held our own, and thus I think that the HS team of our day would also do reasonably well against most DI women's teams :-)

Mike said...

Cool blog - I remember you mentioning it but had not gone to it until now. Keep the hoops articles coming (especially if there is a lockout - even if you aren't a NBA guy). mike

Also, I am now a big fan of the 1963 New Paris Cubs!! Mike

Ron Sr. said...

Guys, I was a sophomore when the 63-64 team was winning almost everything in sight. This has to be possibly the best athletic class in NPHS history. Phil Weybright might have been the best all around basketball player ever to put on a Cub uniform. He also became a great coach and was so successful that the gym in Argos In. is named after him. That is a huge honor and very deserving. I remember watching Bob Lundy, Tom Mishler and Dennis Caprarotta running the 100 yd dash, and finishing 1,2,3 against most schools. And in very fast times. This whole class had many fine atheletes in basketball track and baseball.

Dr S said...

Ron Sr - thanks for the reminder about track - that threesome was indeed fast; plus Weybright could high jump, Caprarotta ruled the hurdles, Shrock was the 'distance' man, and I think that Hummel put the shot and Clem may have also high an long jumped. Alas, I had neither speed nor strength!

We were also pretty good at baseball, played in the summertime out there past the slaughter house.

Ron Sr. said...

I did some checking on the ET Pearl web site and found that the New Paris Cubs basketball teams of 1961-62, 1962-63 and 1963-64 lost "0" home games. The only teams to beat the Cubs during that span were Elkhart (1), Goshen (4), Concord (1), Penn (1), Culver (1), and Wawaka (1). Pretty amazing for a very small school.

Dr S said...

Ron Sr - Phil Weybright introduced me to the ET Pearl site a while back - ain't it great?!! Amazing resource. Also, thanks for the info re the Argos Phil Weybright Gym - I did not know that. I saw Phil, along with Fred Schrock and Coach Hettler at Ann Smoker Schrock's visitation. Bob Lundy reminded us that Ann was a pretty good basketball player in her own right.