April 2012

“Big Little Celtics”

Like the item in February 2012’s “Blue Notes,” this entry is based on a clipping from Jane Spurgeon’s scrapbook.

Jane Sturgeon's college scrapbook

The article transcribed here originally appeared in the February 5, 1940, edition of The Blue Stocking. It describes a basketball game, and the players named are actual PC students and staff, but as far as we can tell, the basketball team described is entirely fictitious, and didn’t correspond to any varsity, freshman, or intramural team extant during this time. It is interesting, however, that six of the nine people listed were part of PC’s football team that year (pictured below). If this game was ever played, it was probably some sort of stunt. And it’s so amusing, that we thought you’d enjoy it!

The "Big Little Celtics" on the 1939-40 PC football team

Challenging the national basketball supremacy of such teams as Long Island University, Colorado, and Southern California, a new aggregation of hardwood artists has arisen from the ranks of the student body here. This group has been appropriately dubbed “P.C.’s Big Little Celtics,” as the players are not only wizards at the game, but they furnish spills, thrills, chills, and plenty of good laughs. The outfit is probably the toughest unarmed group in the country.

In the opening game last Wednesday night the “Big Little Celtics” took the Joanna “Red Hots” comparatively easily in a 42-34 game, which featured the wizardry of “Pop” Fraser, P.C.’s undiscovered discovery. With a ten-man squad this team expects to climb the ladder to basketball fame (or famine). Led by the playing coach, Milburn K. Ratteree, such men as these prove to be the future headliners in the game of hardwood: Red Flanders, 235-pound forward; Goose Gosnell, guard; Pop Fraser, 200-pound forward; Ratteree, guard; Embler – center; June More, 210-pound guard; Jack Nixon, 200-pound forward; Pete McCormick, 160-pound forward and Peanut Minott, the smallest man, weighing 245.

The outstanding feature of the team is the fact that every man comes on the floor at the half smoking a “two-fer” cigar. Any man who isn’t tough enough to commit three fouls per game is expelled from the squad. Jack Nixon is undoubtedly the toughest guy on the squad. Formerly a Southern conference football star and now line coach at P.C., the big fellow is a capable ball-hawk and he threatens the referee’s life everytime he gets within speaking distance. His main play is his holding. He is as strong as an ox and can hold better and longer than any man on the team.

Ratteree is a leading floor man and a good snow-bird shot. Embler is the southpaw ace, while Flanders is nothing short of all-American in his passing abilities. Gosnell is a consistently good guard. Moore means well but is mean as the dickens, while Nixon is nothing short of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or possibly a football player in basketball clothes or something to that effect. Fraser is the hot shot shooter. McCormick disobeys all rules, which he considers worthless to begin with, and can usually be caught climbing opponents’ backs. Minott is so small in comparison to the rest that he is hardly noticeable, therefore being free quite often to get in close and burn the net.

The fellows entertain with cigar-smoking, flirting, disregarding the ball, wrestling, boxing, resting at will, throwing the ball out the windows, sitting on opponents’ heads, slapping the referee, threatening the time-keeper’s life and punching the opposition coach’s nose.

With a tough schedule on the horizon, the newly-formed outfit will get to work on this new type of basketball which they play, and existing conditions lead to the opinion that they will sooner or later be big-time fellows.

Jane Sturgeon, PC Class of 1940

The original article from the Blue Stocking

We would welcome hearing from anyone who can tell us more about the “Big Little Celtics!”