Following the university’s two-team season in my sophomore year, we once again returned to Florida for the summer season of city league basketball. We were able for the second time to capture the championship.
Upon returning to Nevada the following fall, a couple of good job opportunities opened up for afternoon work after classes plus all day Saturday. Since these opportunities for steady employment precluded the opportunity for daily basketball practices at the U, it became more necessary than before to find a sponsor for city league basketball.
As my new roommate was in possession of a brand new Mercury convertible, we decided to call upon the owner of the Lincoln Mercury dealership. His name was Ham McCaughey, and he was a very personable member of the Reno 400 at that time.
We convinced him that constant news coverage on the sports page of the Journal and Gazette would greatly enhance his image. Consequently, we were able to field a team comprised of mostly University football players for the next few seasons. I recall the names of Willie Elder, Tom Rinehart, Jock MacKenzie, Alva Tabor, Ted Enslin and Ed Jesse. Tabor, who was a back-up quarterback at the U, was one of the first black players to participate in city league basketball.
My last year as a McCaughey Motors player was cut short when I was submarined on a fast break by one Walt Powers of Gardnerville. Walt was the famed Douglas County athlete who turned out to be the father of Gary Powers, the long-time Nevada baseball coach.
While nursing my injured knee, I got word that the city league basketball commissioner, Jack Swobe, was leaving that post. Always looking for extra income, I quickly applied for the job.
When I secured the position of City League Basketball Commissioner, Wynn Higgins was the City of Reno Recreation Director. Our first meeting was to schedule the annual practice round for some 32 teams. After that session, the teams were divided into four leagues; Double A, Single A, B and C. The league session was played on two Junior High courts; Billinghurst and Northside, plus the old Reno High gym off of Fourth Street. The winners of the four leagues participated in a season-ending tournament at the old University gym.
The biggest problem associated with being commissioner was to recruit a cadre of husky officials to work the games. Since the three courts were slightly smaller and the players slightly larger over-the-hill athletes, numerous collisions were inevitable. The main job of the referees was to make sure the enthusiastic and physical play did not get out of hand.
The most notable occasion, which set the tone for several years, occurred when one of my refs named Bruno Tassone was being berated by a team manager. To settle the discussion, Tassone threw a short right hand and knocked the complainant cold.
After seven years as basketball and softball city commissioner, I had to end my term since my advertising career included many night-time events.
It was some 10 years later that I became involved in the city basketball league once again when I formed a team for one of my clients, Stremmel Motors. It was a high-powered affair that won the AA championship a couple of years in a row and fared well at the state championship in Tonopah. Outstanding players included my brother-in-law, Darrell Pastrell, George Smith and Mort Hatzenbiler.
My next and final sortie on the hardwood was as manager and captain of the Incline Village team in the Lake Tahoe league. When those three seasons were over, it marked the end of my 40-year roundball career.