Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Women’s Basketball League (1978-1981)

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The Women’s Professional Basketball League was the first attempt to launch a nationwide professional basketball league for women. The league was a creation of sports promoter Bill Byrne, who had previous involvement in start-up ventures such as the World Football League (1974-1975) and the American Professional Slo-Pitch League (1977-1980).

The WPBL debuted on December 9th, 1978 with a game between the Milwaukee Does and the Chicago Hustle at the MECCA  Arena in Milwaukee.  Attendance was poor and media coverage was scant in many cities, but the league managed to complete its first season with all eight franchises intact.  There were also bright spots.  The Chicago Hustle drew a loyal crowd and broadcast games on WGN-TV.  The Iowa franchise was terrific on the court and developed a state-wide following, touring various gyms and arenas around the state in a custom 1964 Greyhound called “the Corndog”.  The expansion San Francisco Pioneers were well managed and well attended.

The wheels started to come off during the WPBL’s second season in the winter of 1979-80.  Under capitalized clubs in California, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. folded without completing their schedules and a fourth – Dallas – was narrowly saved after its original owner bailed.  Following the season, four  more clubs dropped out.

The league returned for a third and final season in 1980-81, but was plagued by more of the same problems.  Players struck over unpaid wages in New England and Minnesota and the league lost another team in mid-season when the New England Gulls went belly up.  The Nebraska Wranglers won the final WPBL championship in April 1981.  The league quietly shut down in stages over the months that followed, never formally announcing its demise.  It just faded away.

The 1979-1981 WPBL is also sometimes referred to simply as the Women’s Basketball League or WBL.

 

==Franchise list==

Franchise Years Active Home Page Tagged Posts
California Dreams 1979-1980 Dreams Home Tagged Posts
Chicago Hustle 1978-1981 Hustle Home Tagged Posts
Dallas Diamonds 1979-1981 Diamonds Home Tagged Posts
Dayton Rockettes 1978-1979 Rockettes Home Tagged Posts
Houston Angels 1978-1980 Angels Home Tagged Posts
Iowa Cornets 1978-1980 Cornets Home Tagged Posts
Milwaukee Does 1978-1980 Does Home Tagged Posts
Minnesota Fillies 1978-1981 Fillies Home Tagged Posts
Nebraska Wranglers 1980-1981 Wranglers Home Tagged Posts
New England Gulls 1980-1981 Gulls Home Tagged Posts
New Jersey Gems 1978-1981 Gems Home Tagged Posts
New Orleans Pride 1979-1981 Pride Home Tagged Posts
New York Stars 1978-1980 Stars Home Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Fox 1979 Fox Home Tagged Posts
St. Louis Streak 1979-1981 Streak Home Tagged Posts
San Francisco Pioneers 1979-1981 Pioneers Home Tagged Posts
Washington Metros 1979 Metros Home Tagged Posts

 

==Key Players==

 

==Downloads==

1978-79 Women’s Professional Basketball League Brochure

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Written by andycrossley

March 25th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

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