By CYNTHIA AUKERMAN
A foolish bet with News-Gazette sports editor Rick Reed sent me to the library's microfilm records of the 1961-62 Union City Times-Gazette. The bet was foolish because a retired newspaper reporter ought to know better than to bet on a sports question with the sports editor. I lost the bet, which concerned a tournament at Hagerstown, but I had a great time digging through those old records.
1961-62 was a glory year for Union City-Wayne, as our school was called in those days. The Indians won both the Hagerstown Holiday Tournament and the Randolph County Sectional. It was fun reading the accounts of basketball games I witnessed at age 15 as a sophomore sitting in the Indian cheerblock.
That may have been the year we cheerblock members wore a weird red tunic-like top with white fringe. The tops probably were intended to resemble some form of Indian dress.
Two of those 1961-62 Indian teammates still live in Union City, Rick Gettinger and Jim Vincent.
Reporter Jerry Davis wrote that the Indians "have no super-star; everybody gets in the act. They don't impress you immediately, but they know how to get the job done."
After the title game of the Hagerstown Holiday Tournament, reporter Bob Reichard wrote: "Top man (for the Indians) was rangy Bill Corbin with 14 markers, followed closely by classy Jim Vincent . . . Vincent blitzed .714 from the field; Gettinger, .666; and Corbin, showing his finest form, shot .666 and picked up 13 rebounds."
In the title game of the Randolph County Sectional, Gettinger hit four straight baskets from the field, and Vincent scored 29 points. Vincent didn't know it at the time, but his 29 points set a final game tournament record, which stood for several years. What made the Indian sectional victory even sweeter was that it came by a score of 86 to 50 over Winchester.
At the pep rally prior to the regional contest at New Castle, Mayor Roy McClurg joined Superintendent Dee Hand and Principal Robert Shank in congratulating team members for their excellent play and sportsmanship. According to the paper's front page article about the pep rally, a "sock hop" followed the speeches, with Tom Dickey on the drums, Rick Zehringer (of later "Hang on Sloopy" fame) on the electric guitar, Dennis Kelly on guitar and John Key on the trombone.
The reporter wrote that the Twist prevailed at the sock hop, with no signs of Union City boys and girls suffering from any resulting back trouble. However, Indian guard Jim Stoops did aggravate a basketball injury when he had a mishap on the stairs.
Hopes were high for an Indian victory over Middletown in the regional. Reporter Davis wrote: "If ever a Randolph County team is going to capture a regional crown, this might be the year."
The Indians had lost only two games,, and those loses were by slim margins. The Indians had won 20 games during the regular season, including a 21-point victory over Knightstown, and that was on the New Castle floor, where the regional would be held. Since Knightstown had defeated Middletown, the thinking was that the Indians should be able to win their first game of the regional.
Alas, that didn't happen. The Indians fell to the Middletown Cossacks by a score of 71 to 60. Middletown's team shot a hot .756 from the field, while the Indians were cold. At one point, the Indians were 18 points behind, but they made several runs at the Cossacks before the game ended.
The 1961-62 basketball season was Coach Tom Goldsberry's second season at Union City. Gettinger and Vincent both have strong memories of Goldsberry.
Gettinger says, "He didn't scream and holler at his players like some coaches. He didn't seem to get excited, but his face would get red."
One of Gettinger's favorite memories is when the referee called a foul on him while he was sitting on the bench. The ref had whistled Gettinger twice early in the game, so Goldsberry took him out. The referee called Gettingers' number on the very next foul he called, and that was enough to make even Goldsberry upset.
Vincent says he didn't appreciate Goldsberry's toughness and high standards while he was in high school, but he came to value them afterwards. He adds, "He wasn't just eaching us basketball."
Vincent also remembers the encouragement from Bob Dunn, the assistant coach. Dunn even wrote to Vincent during his service in the Navy.
In addition to Gettinger, Vincent, Stoops and Corbin, other team members included: Rod Miller, Mike Mangas, Jay Noffsinger, Steve Riffle, Ken Goldsberry and Keith VanSkyock. Student managers were Larry Vincent, Bob Reichard, and Gene Wigger. Of those team members, Stoops, Miller and VanSkyock are deceased, as is Coach Goldsberry and Wigger.