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Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe

Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe: High School Basketball in Illinois

Taylor H. A. Bell
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe
    Book Description:

    In urban and rural high schools throughout Illinois, basketball is a Friday night ritual. Local games are often the biggest thing happening all week, and the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and state tournaments attract fanatical fans by the thousands. _x000B__x000B_Far from the jaded professionals, the stories in Taylor Bell's Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe are of hungry young men playing their hearts out, where high-tops and high hopes inspire "hoop dreams" from Peoria to Pinckneyville, and Champaign to Chicago. Bell, a life-long fan and authority on high school basketball in Illinois, brings together for the first time the stories of the great players, teams, and coaches from the 1940s through the 1990s. _x000B__x000B_The book is titled for four players who reflect the unique quality of high school basketball, and whose first names are enough to trigger memories in fans who love the sport -- Sweet Charlie Brown, Dike Eddleman, Cazzie Russell, and Bobby Joe Mason. Bell offers exciting accounts of their exploits, told with a journalistic flair. _x000B__x000B_Beyond a lifetime spent covering the sport, Bell's research includes three hundred and fifty personal interviews with coaches, administrators, family members, and fans. He has attended the Elite Eight finals of every boys' state basketball tournament since 1958, and met and written about many of the most outstanding teams, coaches, and players who helped to make Illinois one of the most exciting arenas for high school basketball in the United States. Sixty photographs add depth to the accounts. _x000B__x000B_By a fan, for the fans, Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe is the authoritative book on high school basketball in Illinois, and will elate anyone who has thrilled to the poignant highs and shattering lows of high school sports.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09048-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. The Bench
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Pregame Warm-Up
    (pp. 1-4)

    Shelby Foote, the distinguished author and historian who made the Civil War must-reading for a generation that didn’t know Grant from Lee, once said: “you don’t know where you are going until you know where you have been.” He was referring to how the conflict of 1861–65 defined the American character and set the tone for life as we know it.

    The former basketball coach Larry Hawkins, an educator who founded the Institute for Athletics and Education at the University of Chicago, once said: “It is important to have a black history to be sure that kids realize they...

  5. 1 The 1940s
    (pp. 7-38)

    The Green Grill is to Centralia what Fritzel’s was to Chicago, what Toots Shor’s was to New York, and what the Brown Derby was to Hollywood. After a basketball game, everybody who was anybody showed up for a beer and burger.

    It opened in 1934 on North Poplar before moving to its current location on Route 161 at Route 51 in downtown Centralia in 1936. In the 1940s and 1950s, however, Centralia’s great basketball stars, Ken “Preacher” McBride and Bobby Joe Mason, couldn’t go there.

    “There were about a thousand blacks in the community, 120 in the high school,” Mason...

  6. 2 The 1950s
    (pp. 41-70)

    Integration was slow to come to Illinois. The wildfire of racial hatred that burned through the Deep South, especially in Alabama and Mississippi, was less publicized but no less subtle in southern Illinois in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

    Towns in Pulaski, Jackson, Franklin, and Williamson Counties were run by southern Baptists and rednecks that had antiforeign or antiblack or anti-Catholic feelings. Route 37, a north-south highway, went through Johnston City. For years, a sign warned: “Nigger, don’t let the sun set on your head in this town.”

    To this day people who have followed the Illinois high school...

  7. Photos
    (pp. None)
  8. 3 The 1960s
    (pp. 73-104)

    Bogie Redmon is nothing if not loyal. His license plate reads “IL BIG10,” a reference to his days playing on Harry Combes’s basketball team at the University of Illinois. But Redmon’s most cherished memories are of his high school experience in his hometown.

    “Collinsville is like an old Greek city-state,” he said. “Everything is there. Very seldom do you need to go to another town. Or want to.”

    When Redmon was growing up in the 1950s, there were no shopping malls or interstate highways or Nikes. Folks shopped at Imber’s or Jere’s for clothes or Krite Hardware for household needs....

  9. 4 The 1970s
    (pp. 107-138)

    Chuck Rolinski had a vision. Ron Felling admitted that he couldn’t see beyond the city limits of Lawrenceville.

    In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, basketball was king in small towns from Pinckneyville to Pittsfield to Paris. People filled high school gyms on Friday night to cheer their local teams. For many, it was the social event of the week. But something was missing.

    It was becoming clear that large schools were beginning to dominate the state tournament series and that small schools couldn’t advance beyond the regional or sectional levels.

    Hebron gave purists something to cheer about in 1952 when...

  10. Photos
    (pp. None)
  11. 5 The 1980s
    (pp. 141-172)

    The first thing you should know about Glenn Rivers is that he didn’t become associated with his popular nickname, “Doc,” until he went to college.

    The second thing you should know about Rivers is that the most devastating loss of his basketball career—at any level—happened in a sectional semifinal in his last high school game.

    The third thing you should know about Rivers is that he insists that his favorite coach was Glenn Whittenberg at Proviso East in Maywood, not Al McGuire at Marquette or Pat Riley in the NBA.

    The last thing you should know about Rivers...

  12. 6 The 1990s
    (pp. 175-204)

    Nobody thought it would happen. Even Steve Kouri, the Peoria lawyer who conceived of the plot to steal the prize, had doubts that the heist could be pulled off. After seventy-seven years, why would the boys state basketball tournament leave Champaign-Urbana?

    “I was at a Super Bowl party, and a friend whispers to me that he heard someone in a bar in Bloomington say that Illinois State was going after the state tournament,” he said. “I thought it was ludicrous that it would move. But I also thought the prize is so big that I at least had to make...

  13. Photos
    (pp. None)
  14. Overtime
    (pp. 205-210)
  15. Sources
    (pp. 211-236)
  16. Index
    (pp. 237-248)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 249-250)