Recently I was interviewed by New York podcaster Brad Bogner, a sports fan, history buff, and avid reader. We had a good chat about the Ramblers and their place in civil rights history. It runs about 27 minutes.
Sunday Mississippi State beat Loyola Chicago in an overtime squeaker, 65-64. It was the Bulldogs’ first win in a rivalry that spans 51 years. Loyola leads the series 2-1.
Last year the Ramblers won in Chicago, 59-51, in the first of two home-and-home games played to commemorate the last time the teams met, in the Mideast Regional of the 1963 NCAA tournament. Loyola won that game 61-51 and went on to win the national title.
In order to play that 1963 game, the all-white Bulldogs had to sneak out of Mississippi, defying a court order forbidding them to play against black opponents. It’s an oft-told story, but a great one, and this may be the last excuse I’ll get to trot it out. So here’s a version I like, adapted from Ramblers, of course.
Here are a couple of photos from Sunday’s induction celebration at the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. (See previous post.)
This Sunday, November 24, the 1963 Loyola Ramblers will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. They’re the first team in history to go in as a group.
President Barack Obama greets members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers NCAA Championship men’s basketball team in the Oval Office, July 11, 2013. Players from left: Jerry Harkness, Dan Connaughton, Les Hunter, Ron Miller. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
The Basketball Fan-in-Chief will honor the 1963 Loyola Ramblers in the Oval Office today at 12:10 eastern time, according to the schedule. It’s closed to the press, but afterward there will doubtless be interviews and photos, so watch the news.
Please, somebody hand him a copy of Ramblers and take a picture! Take it on vacation with you, Mr. President, it’s right in your wheelhouse.
Dean Smith, center, with his North Carolina team in 1967 after beating Duke for the ACC title.
In chapter 24 of Ramblers, George Ireland’s son Mike tells a story about the 1963 final four. It was Thursday, March 21. The Ramblers had just flown in to Louisville and were ensconced in their hotel. Tomorrow night they would play Duke in the semi.
I’ll be appearing at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest this Saturday, June 8, 1:45 in the Park/Fountain Room at University Center, 525 S. State (Big Red Arrow on the map). Here’s the official notice.
Is your dad a basketball fan? A Loyola alum? Did he ever send large checks to Loyola in your behalf? Chances are he’d love a copy of Ramblers for Father’s Day–especially if it’s a signed copy personally inscribed to your dad by the author himself!
You can order one from my neighborhood indie bookstore, the Book Cellar in Chicago. Just call them at 773-293-2665. They’ll take your order and your inscription info, I’ll walk over and sign the book, and they’ll put it in the mail posthaste. Don’t dawdle: Father’s Day is June 16.
Tonight I’m appearing with Jack Egan and Rich Rochelle on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight with Phil Ponce. 7-8 PM, just before the NCAA final.
Here’s some video from their preview page, which also offers an excerpt from Ramblers, a photo gallery, and WTTW’s excellent 2003 feature on the team. That feature, produced by Jay Smith, is one of the things that got me started on this project.
In other news, Ramblers was just kindly reviewed in Northwestern University’s Tri-Quarterly. It’s official, we are literary.