Sunday, May 07, 2006

Inexperienced 1917 basketball team just kept on truckin' all the way to the state sectionals

The 1917 Madison High School basketball team didn't have high hopes for a winning season, but its inexperienced team managed to keep on truckin' all the way to the state championship sectionals, where, after trouncing every team it met during the regular season, it vanquished Brodhead and Whitewater. But then it met Edgerton and lost 12 to 14.

But before I tell you a bit about the team members, take a good look at the above illustration, which is featured on page 111 of the 1917 Tychoberahn. The hapless players it depicts certainly look like relatives of some of R. Crumb's creations, even though they were drawn about half a century earlier (and their feet aren't so large). After taking a magnifying glass to the initials on the lower right side of the drawing, I'm quite certain they're "R.G." I suspect, therefore, that the artist may have been Robert "Bob" Gilmore, a member of the Class of 1917. The quotation by his senior class photograph in the Tychoberahn adds weight to that suspicion. It says, "He fain would draw a picture."

According to information in the 1917 Tychoberahn, the six Madison High School (Central's name before the opening of East High School) basketball team members ranged in age from 16 to 20. They weighed between 140 and 165 pounds. There's no mention of height, but surely these young men were much smaller than most of the young men who play high school basketball today.

The team members were Ole Gunderson, Paul Tenney, Arthur Tauchen, Leon Mathison, Edward Zwicky, and Mark Kessenich. The coach was G.A. Crispin. One of the three members of the Madison High School faculty who taught physical training, Crispin was a graduate of Springfield College ('08) and the Harvard School of Physical Education ('12). Thus far in my research, I've discovered nothing else about these young men and their coach. If you have any information about any of the players or Coach Crispin, please email me.

Below is an image of page 111 of the 1917 Tychoberahn. It provides all the details of the baskerball team's season. Notice that the highest scoring game was a 46 to 13 victory over Portage.

Note: Double click on any of the three images in this post to enlarge them in your browser window.

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