Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1973-1974 Gastonia Rangers

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Gastonia RangersWestern Carolinas League (1973-1974)

Born: Affiliation change from Gastonia Pirates.
Died:
1975 – The Rangers relocate to Anderson, SC.

Stadium: Sims Legion Park

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Gastonia (NC) Rangers were a Class A farm club of the Texas Rangers during the summers of 1973 and 1974. The team replaced the Gastonia Pirates entry (1963-1972) in the Western Carolinas League.

Gastonia won the 1974 Western Carolinas League championship by virtue of finishing in first place in both halves of the season, thus eliminating the need for postseason playoffs under the rules of the league.  Key future Major Leaguers to play in Gastonia during the Rangers early 70’s tenure included Mike Hargrove (1973) and Len Barker (1974).

Following the 1974 season, owner Fred Nichols moved the team to Anderson, South Carolina where it became the Anderson Rangers.  One factor in the move was the dim lighting at Gastonia’s Sims Legion Park, which failed to meet the minimum “foot candles” requirements (i.e. brightness) for Class A ballparks.

Following the Rangers’ departure in 1974, there was no pro baseball in Gastonia until the arrival of the Gastonia Cardinals in 1977.  In 1980, the Western Carolinas League changed its name to the South Atlantic League.  Gastonia hosted a series of South Atlantic League clubs throughout the 80’s and early 1990’s, including a later version of the Gastonia Rangers from 1987 until 1992.

 

==Links==

Western Carolina League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

December 14th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

February 14, 1963 – Camden Bullets vs. EPBL All-Stars

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Camden BulletsCamden Bullets vs. Eastern Professional Basketball League All-Stars
February 14, 1963
Convention Hall
Attendance: 2,000

Eastern Professional Basketball League Programs
8 Pages

 

Stellar vintage scorecard from the 1963 Eastern Professional Basketball League All-Star Game, played before a small crowd of around 2,000 in Camden, New Jersey on Valentine’s Night.  The exhibition pitted the host Camden Bullets (1961-1966) against an All-League squad from the other six clubs in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania bus league.

The Bullets boasted the best player in the Eastern League in former 10-time NBA All-Star Paul Arizin.  Arizin was Philly through and through, a native son of the city who played college ball at Villanova and then spent his entire NBA career with the Philadelphia Warriors.  When the Warriors left town for San Francisco in 1962, Arizin decided to retire from the NBA rather than move West with the franchise.  At the time of his retirement, Arizin was the 3rd highest scorer in NBA history, despite missing two full seasons in his prime to serve in Korea.

After the Warriors departed, Paul Arizin played three more seasons for the minor league Bullets before retiring from pr0 ball in 1965.  On this night in 1963, he led all scorers with 35 points and added 16 rebounds in Camden’s 122-114 victory over the All-Stars.  He would go onto win Eastern League MVP honors in 1963.  His Camden teammate Bobby McNeill, however, was the MVP of this game, with 32 points, 12 assists and 7 boards.

Paul Arizin was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978 and chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996.  He passed away in 2006 at age 78.

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Written by andycrossley

December 8th, 2014 at 4:38 am

November 26, 1980 – Dallas Diamonds vs. Chicago Hustle

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Anne Donovan Old DominionDallas Diamonds vs. Chicago Hustle
Pre-season Exhibition Game
November 26th, 1980
Old Dominion Field House (Norfolk, VA)
Attendance:

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs
64 Pages

 

Here we have a terrific program that Fun While It Lasted recently acquired from the collection of women’s basketball historian John Molina.  This comes from a rare college/pro doubleheader hosted by the Old Dominion University Lady Monarchs in November 1980.  The front end of the double dip was a pre-season exhibition game between the Chicago Hustle and the Dallas Diamonds of the short-lived Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).

At the time, Old Dominion was the powerhouse team in women’s college basketball.  In 1980, the Lady Monarchs were two-time defending AIAW national champions.  And the Norfolk, Virginia school produced the top two draft picks in the 1980 Women’s Professional Basketball League draft.  Nancy Lieberman, widely considered the greatest female basketball player in the United States, went #1 overall to the Dallas Diamonds.  After a three-month holdout, Lieberman signed a record-breaking $100,000 contract with the financially shaky Diamonds, double the benchmark $50K deal inked by UCLA’s Ann Meyers a year earlier.  6′ 5″ Danish center Inge Nissen went #2 overall to the Hustle.  No less dominant than Lieberman, Nissen cut a much lower public (and financial) profile.

The University imported the Diamonds and the Hustle for this pre-season tune-up and then retired Lieberman and Nissen’s numbers at halftime of the ODU-James Madison contest that followed.  According to The Associated Press, it was the first time a university retired the jerseys of its alumni in the (relatively short) history of women’s college basketball.

Inge Nissen Old DominionTo the delight of the ODU faithful, Lieberman (20 pts. for Dallas) and Nissen (18 pts. for Chicago) led all scorers in Dallas’ 80-66 victory.

Despite losing two future Hall of Famers in Lieberman and Nissen in 1980, the cupboard was hardly bare at Old Dominion heading into the 1980-81 college basketball season.  For one thing, the Lady Monarchs still had the unstoppable 6′ 8″ sophomore center Anne Donovan.  Lieberman (appearing “short” at 5′ 10″), Donovan and Nissen are pictured on the cover of the evening’s game program (above right).   ESPNW writer Mechelle Voepel notes that the iconic photo of the three future Hall-of-Famers hung in the ODU Field House for years.

Donovan would lead the Lady Monarchs to a third consecutive Final Four appearance in 1981.  But unlike Lieberman and Nissen, she would never get the chance to play pro basketball in the United States.  The Women’s Professional Basketball League folded in 1981 at the conclusion of Lieberman and Nissen’s rookie seasons.  Donovan played overseas and gold medals with the U.S. Olympic team in 1984 and 1988.

Donovan and Lieberman were enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in the mid-1990’s.  Both went on to coach in the WNBA and Donovan coached the U.S. women to Olympic Gold in 2008.   Inge Nissen, as always, has remained in the background in comparison to her legendary ODU teammates.  Nissen was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, but still lacks that most basic credential of modern day notoriety – her own Wikipedia entry.

 

==Downloads==

November 26, 1980 Chicago Hustle Pre-season Roster

November 26, 1980 Dallas Diamonds Pre-season Roster

 

==Links==

Dallas Diamonds Home Page

Nissen gets her time in the spotlight“, Mechelle Voepel, ESPNW, June 8, 2012

 

 

Written by andycrossley

November 23rd, 2014 at 5:59 pm

1996-1998 Atlanta Glory

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Theresa Edwards Atlanta GloryAmerican Basketball League (1996-1998)

Born: 1995 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: 1998 – The Glory ceases operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Blue, Red & Nugget Gold

Owner: American Basketball League

 

The Atlanta Glory was a short-lived women’s basketball team that competed in the American Basketball League for two seasons in the mid-1990’s.  The team split its home games between two downtown Atlanta college campuses, playing most dates at the brand new 5,700-seat arena at Morehouse College, built for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Teresa Edwards, a Cairo, Georgia native, former UGA Bulldog, and four-time U.S. Olympic basketball medalist, was the Glory’s featured attraction.  But despite Edwards’ presence, the Glory struggled to find a following in Atlanta.  During the ABL’s 1996-97 inaugural season, the Glory’s average attendance of 2,780 fans was 2nd lowest in the league.  The team also missed the playoffs with an 18-22 record.

Edwards took on double duty as the Glory’s player-coach for the second ABL season in the winter of 1997-98.  The team went backwards to 15-29, missing the playoffs again.  Announced attendance picked up 40% to 3,898 per game, but that wasn’t enough to save the Glory from the axe.  All teams in the single-entity ABL were centrally owned by the league itself.  With the league bleeding cash at an alarming pace, the ABL contracted the Atlanta franchise shortly after the 1997-98 season concluded.

The ABL launched a 3rd season in November 1998, but ran out of money one month later and folded on December 22, 1998.

Women’s pro hoops returned to Atlanta in 2008 with the formation of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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1978-79 Dayton Rockettes

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Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1979)

Born: 1978 – WPBL founding franchise.
Died: 1979 – The Rockettes cease operations.

Arena: Hara Arena

Team Colors: Kelly Green & Silver

Owner: Louis Deitelbaum

 

The Dayton Rockettes were one of eight original franchises in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).  The WPBL, which debuted in December 1978, was the first professional basketball league for women, pre-dating the WNBA by nearly 20 years.

Even by the standards of this league, which scraped and scratched for media and fan attention without consistent success, the Rockettes were a particularly obscure franchise.  They played in the league’s smallest market in a minor league hockey arena.  The Rockettes encountered financial problems early in their maiden season and folded quietly in the spring or summer of 1979, earning a place in our One-Year Wonders file.

The Dayton Rockettes were 12-22 in their only season of existence.

FWIL is actively looking for a program or other memorabilia from this team to improve this entry.  Email andy@funwhileitlasted.net if you can help.

 

==Dayton Rockettes Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
1/4/1978 @ Chicago Hustle W 102-95 Program
4/1/1979 @ Iowa Cornets  L 115-84 Program Roster

 

==Downloads==

1978-79 Women’s Professional Basketball League Brochure

 

==Links==

Women’s Professional Basketball League Media Guides

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs

Written by andycrossley

November 10th, 2014 at 3:04 pm