Archive for Wednesday, January 28, 2004

BHS team from 1954 to reunite

January 28, 2004

By Jeff Myrick

Baldwin City Signal Editor

Here it is, 50 years later, and time for the Baldwin High School basketball team that went to the state tournament in 1954 is getting back together.

An injury prevented that team from attaining its dream of a state title, but those Bulldogs finished fourth in the state and had plenty to be proud of. They wound up with an 18-5 record, won a league title and a regional title.

Come Friday night, most of the team will gather again to be recognized as the present day Bulldogs are taking on arch-rival Wellsville. Even today, they'll be talking about "what might have been," as does Baldwin resident Don Schwartz often.

"We won our first game and one of our main guards got hurt," Schwartz said last week about the "Class B" state tournament in Hutchinson in 1954. "After that first game, everyone was talking about how we were supposed to win state."

But that injury to Richard Barkley, another of the team that still resides in Baldwin, left the Bulldogs without a key element. They lost their next two games to finish fourth.

"We didn't have enough experienced people to bring the ball down the court," Schwartz said. "We were fast-break oriented on offense. I was the slowest one, so I stayed down and rebounded."

There were 10 "main players" on that state team, although an 11th, J.D. Brecheisen, Lawrence, was in the mix towards the end and made the trip with the team to Hutchinson. It's unknown how many will make it back for the festivities between games Friday. The head coach, Clarence Broadfoot, and one of the players are deceased. Health and other concerns may keep another player or two from attending.

But, Schwartz is expecting most will be here. They'll do plenty of reminiscing. That will include how the gym at the old Baldwin Elementary School, which was the high school then, was considered one of the best around.

"The old rock building on Eighth Street was considered the biggest gym around and we had all the tournaments here," he said. "It was still a small court. Courts were smaller back then and we were always on the floor. If we didn't have at least one knee bleeding at the end of the game, the coach didn't think we were working very hard."

There will probably be a discussion about the team's performance at the district tournament where, luckily for the Bulldogs, two teams advanced to regionals back then.

"Oh, we were cocky going into districts at Eudora," said Schwartz. "We won the first two games there. We pained a ball purple and white and were spinning it like the Globetrotters before the final game. The coaches took it away and we never saw it again.

"We lost that last game," he said. "We went on to regionals at Emporia and won all three games to go to state."

It certainly isn't just courts, districts or the bloody knees that the '54 team will be talking about.

"To think back and think of the camaraderie we had and the friendships we still have," Schwartz said. "I'm looking forward to getting back together. We don't know what all everyone has done. I guess we will."

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