That 1959 Championship Thing
When your basketball team is down by six points and there are only 55 seconds left on the clock, what do you do? You go ahead and win the game anyway.
In one of my mother’s newspaper articles, she wrote that it is hard to believe it had been 18 years since Edgerton won the State Basketball Championship. That dates her column at 1977. Mom included information about one of the most talked about games along the tournament trail: The Regional Tournament game between the Edgerton Bulldogs and the Convoy Indians. Convoy’s school system was known as Convoy Union.
The game was being played on a Friday night in Lima, Ohio, back in the winter of 1959. At half-time the Indians were leading the Bulldogs by ten points: 37-27.
In the last minute of the game, the Bulldogs were down by six points with 55 seconds left on the clock: Convoy Union 65, Edgerton 59.
So there they were – knowing they needed six points while keeping the other team from scoring in order to end the game in a tie and head in to overtime.
In my mother’s 1977 column, she reprinted words from Herbert Lewis’ 1959 newspaper column “Sports Talk.” Herb tells us that ten seconds ticked away when “Kenny Franz, Edgerton’s 6’3” scoring smoothie, netted two gift tosses.” That made the score 65-61 with 45 seconds left on the clock.
Herb’s next paragraph was interesting: “Edgerton desperately seeking possession, twice jolted Convoy players, Ray Etzier and Jim Gibson. And even when both of these boys blew their one and one foul chances, Convoy was still in front 65-61, and more valuable seconds had ticked away.”
The scoreboard showed 20 seconds left when “Edgerton’s Bob Grundish, a 5-11 senior, tried an almost desperate one-hand push shot from outside the key and it found the hoop as bedlam broke loose.”
Herb then writes that Convoy still had a 65-63 lead and possession of the ball. But no worries, Tom Kitchen intercepted a pass and tossed it to Joe Meyer who put the ball up to the hoop. The fact that the ball didn’t go in is just part of the excitement everyone was apparently meant to experience.
Kenny Franz was under the hoop. Herb wrote: “Franz tipped the ball in a hectic under-basket scramble and finally pushed it up onto the hoop, where it rolled around and fell through for a 65-65 tie with less than ten seconds to go.”
Herb goes on to tell us: “The overtime periods were slightly less hysterical, as Edgerton finally won out 69-67 in the second and sudden-death period when Bob Grundish hit a pair of gifters.”
And so it would be – the Bulldogs won the Regional Tournament game which was something Edgerton had never done before. The Bulldogs experienced a wonderful moment in time as they went through the celebrations that take place after a game such as that.
Little did they know, there would be two more games to play before they would become known as the 1959 Class A Ohio State High School Boys’ Basketball Champions – a forever kind of title.
Those of us who grew up in Edgerton in the 1960s or later, knew that our hometown had won the championship back in ’59. We learned about it through many great stories and black-and-white photos. We knew the players and the cheerleaders, for they had become parents, and their children were our classmates. Even though we weren’t even born at the time of the championship, we celebrated right along with them years after they brought the trophy home.
Most of the players were 18 years old back in 1959, so a little math tells us how old they are today. There are a few young people walking on this earth who can say: “My grandfather played on that team.”
Soon the great-grandchildren will see the photos and scrapbooks and learn how their grandparents combed their hair when they were teenagers. They will see the uniforms and what their jersey number was. They may take a look at their shoes which had to last through miles of running, for there were no three-pointers back then, and the players were positioning themselves closer to the net.
It has been stated that Williams County, Ohio has seen only one of their little towns go ahead and nab the Boys’ State Championship title and that would be the Edgerton Bulldogs.
Information in Mom’s column tells us the Bulldogs were the underdogs at every game along the tournament trail. Edgerton’s season record was 22-3, and the Convoy-Union team was undefeated with a season record of 26-0. The Convoy team had to have been in shock when it was they who did not finish with the leading score that evening.
One thing I have never aspired to be is a sports writer; there are just some things that some people shouldn’t attempt. It’s out of my league. Pun intended.
There are, however, a few topics I know I can write about. Old photos – no problem. Greeting cards – who knew a collection of greeting cards is really a collection of words trying to find a writer who will tell their story on a piece of paper?
I found a greeting card my father had received on his 55th birthday, and the signatures on his card tell us who was spending time at the round table at Bob’s Dairy Bar back in September of 1974. One of the names was signed BABE – in capital letters.
Babe was 34 years old back in 1959 when he was the basketball coach who took his team all the way to Columbus to win the championship. He was married to Doris, and their young family included two little girls. His friends called him “Babe,” but students called him “Mr. Shoup.” He was our junior high principal and a driver’s education teacher.
Many of my classmates would probably agree Mr. Shoup was a likeable man with a pleasant, mild-mannered personality. He was quiet and smiled a lot – we must have been angels back then.
Paying attention in driver’s education classes seemed to come naturally to all of us. We knew we would have two important tests to pass at the license bureau: one written and one driving.
I still remember Mr. Shoup teaching us how a roundabout works – the circle in Angola, Indiana in particular. I often think of him when I travel through Angola.
It was during my Girl Scout days when I learned about hand signals and using them when riding on a bicycle. I remember Mrs. Rowe, Mrs. Hartley, and Mrs. Rosendaul were the troops’ leaders. So when Mr. Shoup covered how to use hand signals when driving, it was just a review for me. But thankfully I was paying attention, for on that fateful day when I had an appointment for the driving part of the test, I managed to find myself in a car with no brake lights.
The examiner checked the lights, then hopped in the passenger seat of my car and told me I would have to use hand signals since the brake lights were not in working order.
I remember my moment of silence as I hand-cranked the driver’s side window down and thought to myself: There is probably a way to flunk real fast. So don’t flunk. Figure it out and do it. The trick is to put your arm out the window to signal “Slow” or “Stop” then place your foot on the brake.
So in review: Arm out. Foot on brake. Not the opposite which would be: Foot on brake. Arm out.
I passed the test and came home with a story to tell: No brake lights. Used hand signals. Passed the exam.
My dad went to Bob’s the next day to tell his friends at the round table. He said Mr. Shoup laughed and stated it was the first time he had heard of a student taking the test with no brake lights on the car, and he was pleased to hear I knew what to do. What can I say – when you are coached well, you are coached well.
The article my mother wrote back in 1977 included a list of those who were involved in bringing a rather large trophy home from Columbus. I wonder how the trophy traveled back to Edgerton – possibly it was on the bus with the players. If only the trophy could speak.
The managers who assisted Coach G.D. (Babe) Shoup: Fred Goldsberry, Delno Kimpel, and Joe Skaggs.
The cheerleaders: Kay (Free) Herman, Nancy (Hopkins) Jewell, Linda (Sechler) Johnson, and Casey (Sholl) Rupp.
Those who played ball: Larry Casebere, Kenny Franz, Glen Goebel, Larry Goebel, Bob Grundish, Tom Kitchen, Joe Meyer, John Olds, Duane Rinkel, Carlton Schooley, Steve Sito, and Donnie Suffel.
The fans were the classmates, family, parents, members of the community and those who lived in the surrounding towns.
Interestingly enough, this same group of young men had won the Williams County Junior High Basketball Tournament in the 1955-1956 Season before growing up a bit and winning the State Championship.
I recently visited the school with a few of my siblings, and we took a picture of the framed board and photos that were once displayed at Bob’s Dairy Bar. Kermit and Jody were so kind to bring the championship trophies out of the case so we could see them up close and take pictures.
Quite possibly the trophies, along with the written memorabilia such as the programs, scrapbooks, and ticket stubs, would like to tell their story. So here I am, with way too many newspaper clippings in my possession, asking for photos of your scrapbooks and copies of your newspaper clippings.
If you have a few items that date back to 1959 and would allow me to take a photo or two, please contact Cindy at the Edgerton Earth office or contact me, Marlene Oxender, at firstname.lastname@example.org or cell 419-699-0248.
© Marlene Oxender 2021