The 1949-50 Scranton Miners were a talented basketball team and Champion of the American Basketball League. During the regular season, the Miners won 27 games and lost 11 for a .711 winning percentage. The Miners competed with and beat teams in the NBA. They won the play-off series against the 2 time defending champion Wilkes-Barre Barons 2 games to 1. They then beat Bridgeport 3 games to 2 to win the ABL championship. Scranton had the league’s leading scorer, 7 foot Center Elmore Morganhaler at 19.7 ppg. They were coached by Red Sarachak, a great coach in the early years of basketball. The Miners were also an integrated team. William “Dolly” King, William Penn “Pop” Gates and Eddie Younger were already well established players and African American. All 3 had played for the New York Rens. The Miners integration was a full season before Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton integrated the NBA. (The NBL had integrated in the mid 1940s also with Gates and King.)
Pop Gates is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, elected in 1989. He along with Dolly King were in the NBL in 1946. In his first professional season, Gates and the Harlem Rens beat the Oshkosh All Stars to win the World Professional basketball tournament in 1939. At the time, the Tournament was the only way teams could measure themselves with the best.
Eddie Younger was described as lightning quick. He was a good guard and played for the Rens as well as the Harlem Globetrotters later in his career.
Dolly King played football and basketball in college. He once played an entire basketball and football game in the same day. He was one of two black players in the NBL in 1946 playing for the Rochester Royals. He was a dependable scorer and rebounder.
The Miners played and beat the NBA ‘s Washington’s Caps 69 to 50 in the pre-season. The Caps were the easter division champs of BAA the previous season. The Miners beat the NBA’s Sheboygan Redskins in an exhibition at the Scranton CYC, 98 to 79. They also lost to the NBA’s Syracuse Nats 75 to 66 but held Hall of Fame player, Dolph Schayes to just 2 points. The Miners also beat CCNY the eventual NIT and NCAA champion for 1950 in an exhibition in New York and the Miners beat CCNY in Scranton.
The Miners were a very good basketball team. Judging by who they beat, they may have been a competitive team in the NBA. The Washington Capitals were a play-off team The Sheboygan Redskins were as well.
Scranton roster 1949 -1950
William Penn “Pop”Gates, Hall of Fame
Pop Gates, Scranton Miners #10