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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Sporting America

article number 312
article date 01-30-2014
copyright 2014 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Before the NBA … George Mikan’s Talent Gives a Boost to Professional Basketball, 1946
by George Mikan as told to Bill Carlson
   

From the 1951 book, Mr. Basketball.

On March 16, 1946, Maurice White of the American Gear Company announced that I had signed a contract to play professional basketball and to work in the firm’s legal department when I had finished my law work at DePaul. The salary, the newspapers said after a conference with White, was $60,000 for five years. Everybody gulped at that. Who ever heard of a basketball player getting $12,000 a year? And they figured it down to a game-by-game basis. I’d be getting $350 per game.

“We’ve got a good basketball team now. Adding Mikan at center,” White told the newspaper boys, “means we have the best in the nation. We ought to win the world title.”

And then he got John Boord, attorney for the company, to say, “Believe me, we want George in our legal department. He’s a mighty smart boy. We can use him.”

I was very happy with the whole arrangement. Ray Meyer was working a little bit with the Gears. They called him their advisory coach, and Ray set up a special scrimmage so that I had an idea of what they were doing. And then they arranged a practice game against the Anderson Chiefs.

It was almost like being in there with Kurland again. The boys gave me a bad time, both physically and verbally. I got 17 points and we won, but they threw me out of the game in the third period on fouls.

“Hey,” I told myself, “you can’t do this.”

But I could. We played a couple of more games, and I managed to get a few points, but I wasn’t doing as well as I should.

   
George is dejected after going out of his first pro game on fouls.

Toward the end of the season, White entered the Gears in the Chicago Herald-American’s annual World tournament. The first two games were easy. I got 17 and 24 points as we knocked off Pittsburgh and Sheboygan. But in the third game Lon Darling had his Oshkosh All-Stars give me the old scoffing treatment. I gave a few elbows in return—too many for referee Nate Messinger.

So the Gears played without me after the middle of the third period, and Oshkosh went on to win the title the next night. The best we could do was to lick Baltimore 65-60 in the consolations.

White, an athlete himself in his younger days, was more sympathetic and understanding than he was disappointed. “You go back to school this summer and get finished with your law work. Relax a little, if you can, with a little baseball—or marbles, if you like. And then when we get together in the fall, we’ll really go to work. We’re going to win the National League championship next year.”

Well, that was all right with me. It’s always more fun winning, and with a Maurice White team, it was also more lucrative financially. Maurice was of the mind that an athlete would always play to win, but he also believed that once a game was won, a player was likely to relax. That, he said, was fine for the won-and-lost column, but wouldn’t do for the spectators.

So, to promote continued action, he added financial extras. If we won a game, he’d pay $5 for every basket and $2 for every free throw. And, to make sure nobody went “bucket nuts,” he also tossed in another $2 for each assist.

Well, as it turned out, that got kind of expensive, but while the plan was in operation, it got results. Most important for Maurice, it got him the championship he had craved. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

When we got back to work in the fall—this was 1946—another new basketball league had been born, and with it came the Chicago Stags. The Stags had Max Zaslofsky (now with New York), Mickey Rottner, Tony Jaros, Don Carlson, and several other stars. And they also had the Chicago Stadium.

We of the National League scoffed at the Basketball Association of America, the league of upstarts. It couldn’t last. White publicly declared that Chicago couldn’t afford to support two pro basketball teams, and had no qualms at all over which of the two would survive financially. “We’re going to play our games at the International Amphitheater, which maybe isn’t quite the same as the Stadium—but we’ve got Mikan.” White thought that as long as he “had Mikan,” he’d be all right. Later, he discovered he was wrong.

   
When Mikan first turned pro with the Chicago American Gears. Left to right: Bob Neu, Mikan, Advisory Coach Ray Meyer (also DePaul coach at the time), Stan Szukala, and Dick Triptow.

I was standing beside White after the All-Star game the Chicago ‘Herald-American’ puts on every year, and Maurice was talking to Jim Enright, a good newspaperman who also was doing a lot of basketball officiating at the time.

We had drawn a capacity crowd of some 23,000, and we whipped the Fort Wayne Pistons 57-54 in over-time. I had scored 16 points. White had already decided that the whole 23,000 had come to see me play, and that had helped him formulate his theory. But Enright wasn’t so sure.

“People are so used to coming to the Stadium to see big-time basketball, you may not get them out to the Amphitheater.”

“But tonight proves they’ll come to see George.”

“Maybe.”

“And, of course, we’re going to have a winning team.”

“Well,” said Enright, “that’ll make a difference. But remember, the Stags will have a full month’s break on you. With that stock show in the Amphitheater, by the time you get here for your first game, the Stags will be an old, established team. I’d guess, though,” he added, “if you get a fast start on the road, maybe you can get the fans Gear-conscious anyway.”

That little conversation with Enright made White more determined than ever that we should get a fast start. The whole team was told that winning right off the bat was vitally important.

“‘And, George,” White said to me, “if you can do as well in half the games as you did in that All-Star game, I’ll be satisfied.”

I would have been, too.

That All-Star game was a hummer. Fort Wayne represented the pros, of course. The Pistons had won the National League title for three years in a row, and they had a tough club. Chick Reiser and Bob Tough were the forwards and Bobby McDermott was playing guard with Charley Shipp and Curly Armstrong. For the pivot they had Blackie Towery and Johnny Pelkington.

Not only had they been mopping up everything in the pro leagues; they had also played in the All Star game twice and won twice. This was their bid for three in a row.

Dutch Lonborg of Northwestern was the All-Star coach, and Dutch had so many big-name college stars he didn’t know what to do with them all.

   
Mikan, DePaul University number 99 in 1944.

“George, you take Pelkington,” he said, “and try to wear him down. Maybe we can beat this club by pacing ourselves—maybe beat them in the fourth quarter. Now everybody take it cool,” he warned. “I don’t want anybody fouling out, because then we aren’t going to be at full strength for the finish.”

Well, we got off to a good start. We played it smart all the way, and at halftime had a 27-26 lead. Tony Jaros had been shooting the ball in to me, and I’d shoot it back to Leo Klier. Or vice versa. Pelkington and Towery were so busy chasing Klier and Jaros on the handoffs that they didn’t know what was going on.

Between halves, Lonborg told me to take a few shots. I did. But with Billy Hassett and Rollie Seltz whizzing past me, and with Freddie Lewis potting them from out on the floor, the Fort Wayne boys didn’t know how to set their defense. They never did get it set.

If McDermott hadn’t come up with a string of his miraculous long shots, we would have swamped them. Mac flipped in seven from a mile out, and so it was tied 52-52 at the end of the regulation game.

It wouldn’t have been that, either, except that with 40 seconds to go, I committed my fifth foul by clamping down on top of little Curly Armstrong as he was trying to break away for a bucket. I was out of the game, and Curly sank the free throw to tie it up.

Don Otten went in at center in the overtime, and he and Lewis got a quick bucket apiece, and we had won. I’ve been in lots of All-Star games since, but that was the big one for me.

After the game, White took me in tow. “Nice going, George,” he said. And then, with a thoughtful look in his eye, he observed, “That McDermott’s quite a ball player, isn’t he.”

In spite of our determination, we didn’t start fast. We lost the first two games and then at Rochester, N. Y., against Al Cervi, whom I’d still rather beat than eat, we won our first one. That called for a little celebration, and we had one. White, who accompanied us on all our trips, was happier than we were: “Now we’re going,” we told each other.

But we weren’t, and when we finally got back to town in the middle of December, the situation appeared to be just as Enright had suspected. The Stags, who had been playing at the Stadium for a month, had the town all sewed up.

We came home to open against Oshkosh on the same night the Stags were playing Cleveland. We were at the Amphitheater; the Stags at the Stadium.

   
Chicago American Gears number 99, George Mikan defending against Oshkosh.

The afternoon of the game, Maurice White called up and said he would like to come over and talk with me. I thought he was going to explain to me why he had dropped my brother Joe and three other players without any warning at all several days before. I wanted to talk with him, too. In fact, I was in a belligerent mood.

“George, I’ve got to say this,” he began. “Basketball is a business and when a business is not doing so well, you start to cut corners. The biggest corner I can see right now is you. I want you to go along with me for the rest of the year. I want you to settle for $6500 instead of $12,500, and when we get on our feet, I’ll see that you’re paid what you’re worth.”

Well, that stopped me. This was too much, and I told White so. I wasn’t going to take any cut in pay. Moreover, I didn’t like the way he was treating his players. For all I knew, I’d be next.

I was still burned up that night when we got out to the game. The crowd was surprising. If the town had been talking about nothing but the Stags while we were gadding around Detroit and Youngstown, Toledo and Syracuse, it had been saving its money for the Gears.

The place was packed. “Maybe this’Il show him we’re going to make money,” I mused to myself as we warmed tip before the game.

In my mood, I wouldn’t have been good for even a game of tiddly-winks. I scored one bucket and a couple of free-throws. In my temper I even threw the ball—hard—at one of the officials, and he promptly called a technical foul on me.

At half-time, I had made up my mind. I wasn’t going to play basketball under these conditions. It was a punk debut, all right. We got beat 44-41. I had 9 points to show the home crowd.

After the game, I ran into Maurice Shevlin of the Chicago Tribune and poured out all my troubles to him. In the morning, the Tribune headline said: “MIKAN RETIRES AFTER GEARS LOSE, 44 to 41.”

Meantime, I had talked with Stacy Osgood, one of my oldest and smartest friends, an attorney. I detailed my gripes to him: They wanted to cut my salary. The players were jumpy because they didn’t know from one game to the next whether or not they were still working for the club. (My brother Joe and three others learned of their release as they were about to get on a train to go to another game.)

We didn’t have any coaching, and, everybody was expecting me to score 30-40 points every night. And then, too, there wasn’t anything in the contract that gave me a break. It was all one-sided. The Gears could get out of it, but I couldn’t.

“George,” said Stacy, “let’s just sue to break the contract. It should be easy. This is strictly a one-sided thing.”

I explained to Stacy that there were other agreed-upon stipulations that weren’t in the contract. The league had a salary limit of $7000 a year. But I had been guaranteed a total of $60,000 for the five years. The additional $5000 a year was to consist of $50 a week from the Gear company for taking a peek into the legal department every once in a while, and of cash bonuses for scoring—$5 a basket and $2 a free throw. Furthermore, I was to be covered with a health and accident policy.

None of these agreements had been carried out. So we sued.

I didn’t play the next night when the Gears met the Fort Wayne Zollners—didn’t play for another six weeks, in fact. In the meantime the Gears began a counter-suit against me for $100,000, sending me little registered valentines almost every day: “This is to notify you that you have been fined $150 for not playing last night.” . . . “This is to notify you that you have been fined $25 for missing practice Tuesday.” . . .

After sixteen games and I don’t know how many practices, the fines got up to a total of $2550. If I were to lose both suits, I’d be in hock for $102,550!

The judge in the case was Harry M. Fisher, whose son was an attorney for the Gears. He was an easy-going, conciliatory soul, and soon everybody kissed and made up—till the end of the basketball season. The two suits were withdrawn, and I went back to playing basketball.

At the time, the Gears were stumbling around near the basement. But they had bought Bobby McDermott from the Fort Wayne Pistons, and Bobby was giving them a little more life.

When I came back to the club, McDermott said, “Hello, George, you’re starting tonight.” That’s all there was to it. I got 22 points and we won.

From that point on, we didn’t lose a single game at home, and when McDermott, whom White had hand-picked for the job of player-manager, put his foot down, we started winning on the road, too.

Mac was a fighter. Under his leadership we made the playoffs in a breeze and then won the championship of the Western Division of the National League. During the regular season, the Gears had lost more games with Indianapolis than they had won, yet in the playoffs we beat them in five games.

The fifth game, though, was a McDermott brawl I’ll always remember. A good long shot, Bobby was also adept at driving in past the pivot. Usually, when somebody would step out to stop him, the referee had little choice but to call a foul on the defensive man. (They still call them that way.)

   
International Amphitheatre Official Program headlining Mikan.

In the second quarter of our game with Indianapolis, I handed Mac the ball as he went past me, and after the inevitable crunch of bodies, the whistle sounded as usual. Also as usual, McDermott put on his most injured expression and started his trek to the free-throw line.

“No!” shouted the referee—I think it was Norris Ward—”The foul is on No. 9 for charging.”

“What!” Mac screamed to the rafters.

And Ward repeated, “It’s on you—for charging,” and he reached for the ball. But instead of the ball, Ward got the flat of McDermott’s hand across his face; and when Ward, instead of striking back, raised his arm to point the way to the showers, McDermott squared away and belted the official with both hands. Mac was thrown out of the game, of course, but I managed to get around Arnie Risen for 26 points; Bob Calihan got another 17; and we won it 76-62.

And then we got Oshkosh, though we certainly didn’t want them. They had beaten us seven straight. Probably because I had missed all those games, I just couldn’t believe they were too tough for us. They weren’t, either, and neither was Rochester in the championship series.

So there we were champions of the National Basketball League and as far as I was concerned, that meant we were champions of everything else, too, including the Chicago Stags.

There was some newspaper talk that it might be a good idea for the Gears to play the Stags—maybe for charity if not for money—but that’s all it ever amounted to, just newspaper talk.

After the season, I walked in to White’s office and chatted for a bit. He didn’t want to talk about money, or players, or the Gears. The team had finished better than he thought they would—both artistically and financially and he was in a good mood.

“George,” he said, “I’ve got an idea. You’re the first one I’ve mentioned this to, and I want you to give me your honest opinion.”

“Sure, Maurice.”

“Well,” he said, “I’ve been looking, at the attendance figures around the League, and I find that we outdrew everybody else in the outfit. Rochester, Syracuse, Indianapolis, Oshkosh—they all had good years. But no matter how well they were going, they always drew more people against us.

“George, that proves one thing. You’re the greatest drawing card in basketball today. And that’s given me an idea. I’m not ready to
go ahead with it yet, but I think we’ll go into the basketball business on our own some day. We’ll have teams all over the country, maybe fifty of them. Playing anybody else, they ought to break even or make a little money, but then we’ll run the Gears—and you—into each one of the towns three or four times and give them a big pay-day. . . . What d’ya say?”

What could I say? To me, it was as ridiculous as it would have been for somebody to take Babe Ruth out of the American League and try to start a brand-new baseball league around him. I didn’t think it would work. But didn’t pretend to know anything about the operation of basketball leagues, or much about business, either, for that matter.

All I knew was that if I didn’t hurry up and get back to my studies, I’d never be a lawyer, and then maybe Pat Daveny might not marry me. Who’d want to marry just a basketball player?

   
Future All-American? George Lawrence Mikan III and his daddy.

But Pat married me, all right. Patricia Lu Daveny, she was then. Patricia Lu really didn’t have much choice. We had our pictures in the papers and notes in everybody’s column so often, she couldn’t have backed out without turning the whole town upside down. But I don’t think she wanted to, anyway. I’m sure she’s not sorry now that we’ve got Terry and Larry, two of the busiest little basketball players you ever saw.

When we got back from our honeymoon, there in the papers was White’s announcement of his new sixteen-team league. The Professional Basketball League of America was its lengthy title.

One league or another didn’t make any difference to me. And so I went back in the fall to start practice. We played in Tulsa and St. Paul and Birmingham, Oh, It was a far-flung league, all right.

White had organized teams all the way from Grand Rapids to New Orleans and had scattered a $600,000 bundle of cash at the various stops. Early in November we came home to Chicago (after winning eight straight games) and read in the papers that White had gone to the hospital with a nervous breakdown and that the league had folded.

What’s a basketball player to do when he has no team? Well, I just sat. Stacy Osgood called me on the phone.

“George, I’ve got wires here from Les Harrison at Rochester and from Carl Bennett at Fort Wayne. And there are a couple of long-distance phone calls, too.”

At that time, of course, I was interested in playing in Chicago, or at least close to Chicago. Frankly, I wasn’t much concerned when Max Winter of Minneapolis called me and said, “George, you belong to the Minneapolis Lakers.”

Huh, I said to myself. The Gears folded, the League folded. There wasn’t any semblance of a contract left. I don’t belong to anybody except myself. But I didn’t tell Winter that.

He came down to see me. Explaining that when Maurice White had pulled the Gears out of the National League, the rights to each member of the Gears had been parceled out to the remaining clubs. Winter told me that Minneapolis had bought the Detroit Gem franchise at the end of the previous season, and with the franchise had got the rights to negotiate with me.

Well, Winter so charmed me that instead of telling him to go ahead and negotiate, I just sat and listened to him sell me on the Minneapolis Lakers. They had Jim Pollard from Stanford and Tony Jaros and Don Carlson, who had been with the Stags, and Don Smith, a Minnesota player. . . . And Minneapolis was a wonderful city, and so were the golf courses. And setting up a law practice would be a cinch if I wanted to work at it.

   
The author, George Mikan, makes his collaborator, Bill Carlson, look like the midget in a sideshow. Carlson, a Minneapolis newspaperman, interviews Mikan on his first arrival in Minneapolis to talk terms with the Lakers, 1947.

Two days later I was in Minneapolis and met Coach Johnny Kundla and the ballplayers themselves. I signed. “You’ll never regret this, George,” said Winter. And I haven’t. Minneapolis is everything he said it would be—from the Lakers to the golf courses.

The first game I was to play with the Lakers was at Sheboygan.

“But what’ll we do for a uniform for him?” Doba wanted to know. “We haven’t got anything that’ll fit.”

Doba was the clubhouse handyman. Pete Mikulak is his real name, but ever since that first day when he found a Laker shirt that I could wear, he has been Doba to me.

“But I don’t know what we’re going to do about trunks,” he said.

“Oh, I’ve got a pair,” I told him.

So off we went to Sheboygan. We lost. There were two reasons. First, and obviously the most important, was that I was wearing my Gear trunks which, if the National League had known it, would have made them turn over in their swivel chairs.

The second was that I wasn’t accustomed to the Kundla style of play. We all made lots of mistakes. Jim Pollard, one of the great forwards in basketball history, was jumping center, but aside from that, the club used few tactics that demanded an old-fashioned pivot man.

Jaros and Carlson and Pollard were so anxious to make me look good in my first start that they threw the ball to me every time they got it. Pretty soon the whole Sheboygan team was leaning against me, and couldn’t even raise my arms, let alone score a basket.

But from then on, we began to look a little better. “We’ve got to change our thinking now,” Johnny Kundla said. “We started the season saying the game of basketball was outdated if an offense depended on a tall pivot man. But now that we’ve got the best in the business, it isn’t so old-fashioned any more.”

So Kundla devised some plays that revolved around me and added them to the plays the club was already using. With the variations on each play, we could have played a whole ball game without repeating a single one. Still, it takes more than plays win ball games, and we were going just so.

   
Taken his first year at Minneapolis, 1947-48, this photo was used all over the country. George like it. It shows him dribbling, something in which he take quite a pride.

I wanted, of course, to make a good impression in my new town, and consequently I was throwing the ball at the hoop more often than I should have. I was scoring all right—leading the league, in fact—but that wasn’t enough.

I didn’t realize what was wrong until Herm Schaefer joined us. The Indianapolis club was having trouble. They fired a coach and then a couple of players. Then they got another coach, and Schaefer just up and quit. One of the smartest things Max Winter ever did was to sign him up.

Johnny Kundla had been telling me that we’d do better if we’d pass the ball around a little bit. “Don’t shoot so often, George. They’re ganging up on you,” he said twenty times.

Then came Herm. After the first game he played with us, he took me by the arm and sat me down over in a corner of the dressing room.

“George, you’re a fool!”

“What’re you talking about!” I said a started to walk away.

“No, George, listen.”

“Well?”

“Look, George, this is the greatest thing that ever happened to you, and you’re not taking advantage of it. This Jim Pollard is a great basketball player. He can do anything with that ball, including pass it to you. But you’ve got to pass it to him, too.

“This is a lot faster league than you think it is. And no matter how big a man you were with the Gears, you can’t win these games all
by yourself. If you and Pollard play together, we can finish ten games ahead of everybody. If you don’t, well. . .”

It made sense. A couple of nights later, Jim and I got in a corner. We talked about what Herm had said. And right there on the spot we agreed on a head signal for a return pass.

Did it work? Of course it worked. It’s the simple basis of the game itself. But we had been reading our press clippings too often, I guess. Anyway, that night we went out and walloped Flint, Michigan, by 25 points. It was 75 to 50. And the next night we whipped the same team by 80-42. That was 38 points.

And from that point on, with Schaefer in the back court and either Carlson or Jaros working at the other forward with Jim, we won 27 out of our next 33 games and breezed in as Western Division leaders.

Only one brief interlude marred that surge, and that, strangely, was because of my newfound friend, Abe Saperstein. Abe decided his Harlem Globe Trotters could beat the Lakers, and that such a game would draw a full house in Chicago where both the Trotters and I were great fan favorites.

The Lakers agreed to the game, and it was booked for the Stadium, where, the newspapers said, Goose Tatum of the Trotters and I would hook up in “the Duel of the Century.” As if the game itself wasn’t enough, with the Trotters strutting over their synthetic winning streak of 101 straight.

Well, the build-up and publicity went to my head. I was anxious to outdo Tatum, to show the Chicago crowd I was even better than I had been with the Gears, and personally to lead the Lakers to this important victory.

I tried to beat the Trotters all by myself, completely forgetting that I was but one cog in a great basketball machine. Sure, I was better than the Goose. I had 24 points and Tatum 9. But I was ashamed of myself. What a tremendous basketball player he must have been in his younger days!

Early in the game, Goose took the ball away from me as I pivoted for a shot. “Where you-all goin’, Jawdge?” he wanted to know. “Don’t you go sticking those elbows out at me. I’ve been in this game for a long time, boy. I’ve found out it pays to take it easy.”

   
Mikan vs. the Globe Trotters.

Whereupon he palmed the ball in front of my face, dribbled across in front of me, and went down for an easy basket. That was the only time he worked the ball past me. His other two baskets he got when he was standing under the hoop and took long passes.

The Goose, along with an uncanny ability to put the ball in the hoop (he had arms long enough, I’ll swear, to reach to the top of the backboard), was also an actor. And yet he was so skillful that even while making faces at the crowds and going through his funny-act, he was always alert to the game itself.

Once, near the pivot, the Goose turned his back to me and began going through his gyrations for the benefit of the crowd. He was so funny, I watched myself. As soon as I dropped my arms—swoo-oo-sh! He curled the hair on my head with a pass to Ermer Robinson under the basket, and we had fallen another two points behind. . . You can’t afford to laugh at the Trotters when you’re on the floor with them.

Well, it was close, anyway. I dropped a free-throw with about a minute to play to tie the score at 59-59. But Robinson calmly dribbled up the side at the last second and let fly with a soft floating shot at the hoop. It went in. We lost.

We took it out on Oshkosh and Tri-Cities and Rochester. We beat all three in the National League playoffs and won the title.

In some quarters, after we came back from Rochester, it was said that maybe it wouldn’t have been so easy for us if Arnie Risen hadn’t broken his jaw. And that’s probably right. But with or without Risen, we would have won it. We were going, that’s all. And we had won everything else.

“TWO TITLES IN TWO YEARS FOR BIG GEORGE” read a headline in one of the Chicago papers. The writer recalled that the Gears had won the National League title the year before. I was still considered a Chicagoan. As a matter of fact, a couple of columnists hinted that the Stags, still going strong in Chicago, had arranged a deal for me. But I was happy at Minneapolis—very happy.

Our next objective was the Herald-American’s World Tournament. The Lakers did better than the Gears had done two years before. We knocked off Wilkes-Barre 98-48 in the first round.

“Don’t you ever show any mercy?” a fan got up and hollered to us on the bench. “It’s disgraceful, beating anybody by 50 points.”

Maybe that’s why we beat Anderson only 59-56 the next night, and then the New York Rens 75-71 in the finals. In any event, we won.

There was nothing to do now but look around for new worlds to conquer. So that’s what the Lakers did. There was a lot of fussing and fuming and some of the clubs of the National League threatened law suits, but the following fall we were in another league, the Basketball Association of America.

“Old stuff, isn’t it, George—this changing scenery?” Ben Berger, one of the owners of the Lakers, said to me.

“Boy, I’ll say it is. This’ll be the third switch I’ve made. From DePaul I went to the Gears in the National League, then with the Gears to the Professional League of America, and last fall to the Lakers and the National League, and now to the BAA.”

But I didn’t mind. The only difference it made to me was in the traveling. In the BAA, we played Chicago and New York and Washington and Philadelphia. You could get there by plane or train.

In the old National League, getting to places like Sheboygan and Oshkosh and Flint was murder. To reach Sheboygan, for instance, one of the top basketball towns in the country, we took the train to Milwaukee and then had to hire a bus or a fleet of taxies to get us to Sheboygan by game time.

Getting to Flint was worse. “By train, bus, and dog-sled” was the quip about Flint, and it wasn’t far wrong.

So switching to the big towns was fine with me. It would be lots easier sleeping in a Pullman than sitting up in a bus. It would be more interesting, too, because we’d be back in Chicago against the Stags.

My brother Ed—”Moosie-Baby,” I called him—had finished DePaul with a terrific season, and the Stags had signed him to a contract.

Oh, yes, the 1948-49 season was going to be interesting. But I didn’t know how really interesting it would be until later. . .

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