The Houston Shamrocks were an obscure women’s pro basketball team that played for just two months in the doomed Women’s American Basketball Association in the autumn of 1984. The league was an attempt to capitalize on the spotlight on women’s basketball afforded by the 1984 Los Angeles summer Olympics. But the WABA was poorly organized and desperately under-financed. Although the USA won the gold medal in women’s basketball, only two members of the American team, Lea Henry and Pam McGee, signed to play in the WABA that fall.
The league was a shambles from the start, with franchises dropping out left and right and checks bouncing higher than the WABA’s official Spalding game balls. The entire thing came crashing down in early December 1984 after less than two months of play.
The Shamrocks were the weakest entry in the 6-team circuit. The big name attached to the team was Head Coach Elvin Hayes, the future NBA Hall-of-Famer who retired from the Houston Rockets after the 1983-84 season. The Shamrocks also managed to sign Lea Henry, one of the few 1984 U.S. Olympians who agreed to play in the league.
When the league folded in December, the Shamrocks languished in last place with a 3-14 record.
The Saskatchewan Storm were a minor league basketball team that competed in the World Basketball League from 1990 until the league’s midseason demise in 1992. The WBL played an exciting, fast-breaking style of ball, thanks to a rule that limited eligibility to player 6′ 5″ and under (later raised to 6′ 7″ in the league’s final season.)
The WBL had a handful of clubs scattered thousands of miles apart across North America. The league was organized as a sort of modified single-entity structure, with a group of Youngstown, Ohio businessmen serving as general partners and owning 60% of most franchises. But the heart of the league was in Canada, where teams like the Storm, the Calgary 88’s and the Winnipeg Thunder drew strong crowds. Saskatchewan led the WBL in attendance in 1990 with an announced average of 4,193 fans per game.
During the Storm’s third season in 1992, the WBL began to experience severe distress. With the centralized general partnership structure, even those franchises with partial local ownership relied on the Ohio league office to fund a significant portion of local expenses. Suddenly the flow of money stopped. The league ran up six figure debts to the Canadian franchises. League founder and front man Mickey Monus was nowhere to be found. The WBL abruptly shuttered its two Florida franchises a few weeks into the season in June 1992. At the league All-Star Game in July, league officials handed a check for $48,000 to the host Hamilton Skyhawks. It bounced.
Eventually it came out that Mickey Monus funded the WBL for years with funds embezzled from the Youngstown-based Phar-Mor discount pharmacy chain. In addition, many of the WBL’s sponsors and advertisers were Phar-Mor suppliers whose arms were twisted to support Monus’ basketball hobby. With Monus on the run and about to be incarcerated, the WBL collapsed like the proverbial house of cards. The league folded in midseason on August 1, 1992. The night before, the Saskatchewan Storm were stranded in Dayton, Ohio when no one could come up with the money to fly them home from what turned out to be their final game.
The WBL’s relatively successful Canadian franchises banded together to start a new Canada-only league in 1993 called the National Basketball League. Saskatoon had a franchise in the NBL, but with new ownership and a new identity – the “Saskatoon Slam” – to distance themselves from the scorched earth left behind by the WBL. The NBL lasted a year-and-a-half before closing down midway through the 1994 season.
==Saskatchewan Storm Programs on Fun While It Lasted==
The Hamilton Skyhawks were an Ontario-based minor league basketball team that played for parts of two seasons in the early 1990’s, failing to complete either campaign.
The Skyhawks’ first go around was in the World Basketball League, a circuit which only allowed players 6′ 5″ or shorter. The WBL featured four franchises in Canada, all of which had some semblance of a following. The league’s U.S.-based teams were considerably less popular and the whole enterprise fell apart in July 1992 when it was revealed that the league’s primary patron was funding operations with embezzled money. The WBL folded in midseason on August 1, 1992.
The group of four Canadian franchises decided to form a new Canada-only league and re-group in 1993. Well, sort of. Skyhawks founder Ron Foxcroft was dubious and bailed out of the new effort, dubbed the “National Basketball League“. But new owners took over the team and kept the Skyhawks going in Hamilton. The NBL debuted in the spring of 1993.
The new Skyhawks ownership group ran out of momentum as the season wore on. The Skyhawks qualified for the 1993 NBL playoffs with a 24-22, but abruptly moved to Edmonton just before the playoffs got underway. Playing as the “Edmonton Skyhawks”, the team lost in the semi-finals to the Cape Breton Breakers. The team was never heard from again, in either Hamilton or Edmonton.
The rest of the NBL went out of business a year later, midway through the 1994 season.
The Calgary 88’s were a minor pro basketball league that competed in all five seasons of the short-lived World Basketball League (1988-1992). The WBL was restricted to player 6′ 5″ and under and featured an odd geographic mix of teams scattered from southern Florida to Western Canada.
True to is name, the World Basketball League also imported touring teams from Europe and the Soviet Union (who were not subject to the height restriction rules) to compete against the North American franchises. These games counted in the league’s regular season standings. Without exception the European teams were terrible and these contests basically amounted to a guaranteed win.
The 88’s were one of the WBL’s best teams, both on the court and at the box office. They appeared in the league championship series in back-to-back seasons in 1989 and 1990, but lost to the Youngstown Pride on both occasions.
In August 1992 the World Basketball League folded in midseason after an embezzlement scandal involving the Youngstown Pride’s owner consumed the entire league. The 88’s went under with the rest of the league.
The Santa Barbara Condors were a financially bereft 2nd division American soccer club that folded after playing just a dozen games in the summer of 1977. During their brief run, the Condors played home games at Valley Stadium, a high school field in Goleta, California.
Former Liverpool captain Ron Yeats was the Condors’ player-coach. The owners stopped paying the team almost immediately and bailed on the club. On July 1, 1977, after playing without pay for nearly two months, Condors players went out on strike, refusing to play a pair of weekend games against the Los Angeles Skyhawks.
American Soccer League officials were unable to find new investors for the club and the Condors folded with a 4-4-4 record. The remaining 12 games on the club’s regular season scheduled were cancelled. Midseason failures were not unusual in the ASL and the Condors were one of numerous 2nd division clubs in the States who were unable to complete their schedules during the 1970’s.