This rare program – actually an eight-page fold-out pamphlet – is from the early pioneering days of women’s professional basketball in the late 1970′s. The Dallas Diamonds were a 1979 expansion franchise during the sophomore season of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981). This program comes from the team’s third home game at the dimly-lit Dallas Convention Center, played on December 4th, 1979 against the Minnesota Fillies.
A slim historical record of this game exists in the Diamonds 1980-81 media guide, noting that the Diamonds lost this game 102-91, despite a 29-point effort from 6′ 3″ Dallas center Alfredda Abernathy, the team’s #1 draft pick out of Alabama State University.
The team’s former PR Director, Nancy Nichols, wrote a wonderful retrospective on the Diamonds for Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas in 2005. You can read it here. Nichols notes that attendance was poor that first season, averaging somewhere around 1,500 per night according the Nichols. Team owner Judson Phillips, a 28-year old Dallas-area McDonald’s franchisee, expected to lose $100,000 on the team over its first three seasons. He lost it in the first two months instead.
On January 18, 1980, less than halfway through the Diamond’s 36-game schedule, Phillips called a press conference and announced he was folding the team in mid-season. (The WPBL already lost expansion franchises in Philadelphia and Washington to financial collapse the previous month). The league managed to keep the team going for a few more days until an angel investor stepped in.
A 33-year old local real estate executive named Michael Staver saw the press coverage and came forward to save the Diamonds. Staver kept the Diamonds going through 1981 and forged them into a model franchise by WBL standards, but the Diamonds vanished along with the rest of the league in the summer of 1981.
A revived version of the Diamonds came back in 1984 as part of the new Women’s American Basketball Association.