How good were the 1949-1950 ABL Scranton Miners?

Scranton Basketball

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

Dolly King

William Penn “Pop”Gates, Hall of Fame

Hank Rosenstein

Elmo Morganhaler

Bob Kelly

Red Meinhold

Ed Kassler

Vince Verdeschi

Chilly Edlestein

Nat Militzok

Eddie Younger

Pop Gates, Scranton Miners #10

Chuck Halbert, Washington Caps

Famous Boxers in the Electric City, John J. Sullivan

Scranton boxing, Scranton Sports

Scranton has a rich history of boxing that date back to the 1800’s.  On September 11, 1882 James J. Sullivan was to give an exhibition of boxing. Sullivan was the champion of the World. He stayed at the Farnham House in Pittston.


Four rounds of sparring was to occur with Bill Madden at Music Hall in Scranton. William Madden was his trainer and manager. After the exhibition, Sullivan invited anyone into the ring and he would ” endeavor to knock him out.”

The Pittston Gazette said that Madden and Sullivan were the main and only attraction. The Scranton Republican said the upper galleries shook with applause when Sullivan and Madden were presented. The Gladiators were also said to have revived interest in the manly art of self defense. ( Pittston Gazette Sept 12. 1882 p4).

Sullivan may have been the first boxing champion in Scranton, Pa. This was the first of his visits to the city.

The Big O in Scranton, Oscar Robertson 1964, Scranton CYC

Major Leagues in Scranton, Scranton Basketball

Oscar Robertson is an NBA legend. He became the first player in the league to average a triple double in the 1961-62 season, he averaged  30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists playing for the Cincinnati Royals. Scranton basketball fans got a chance to see him play in a regular season game against the 76ers in 1964.

On a Friday night, February 28, 1964, Oscar Robertson’s Royals played the Philadelphia 76ers


at the Scranton CYC.  Over 4,000 fans crammed into the tiny venue to watch a regular season NBA game.  Future Hall of Fame player Oscar Robertson was billed as the star in the advertisement in the Scranton Tribune but there were plenty of great players. They included for Cincinnati: Hall of Fame player Jack Twyman,  Rookie of the year and future Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas , for thr 76ers Player coach and Hall of Famer, Dolph Schayes,  Shooting Guard and future Hall of Famer Hal Greer,  Hall of Fame player Chet Walker and  Center Red Kerr. Both teams would make the play-offs this season.

Cincinnati took a slim lead after one period 26-25. The  Royals would stretch that lead in the 2nd for half-time lead of 8 points.  The Royals set a then franchise record with 51 points in the third quarter.  They had a 20 point lead at the end of the 3rd, 113-93. Twyman, Robertson and Smith were hitting on all cylinders.

As hot as the Royals were in the third, they were equally cold in the 4th. Philadelphia made a furious comeback, tying the game with 3 minutes left and briefly taking the lead. Lucas and Robertson hit key free throws and the Royals held on for a 134 to 132 win. Oscar Robertson hit 34 and Jack Twyman had 36 points. Jerry Lucas had 19 and Adrian Smith 29 for the winners. The 76ers were led by Center Red Kerr’s 36 points and Paul Neuman’s 33 points.

The 76ers would be back in town for another game in 2 weeks against the Detroit Pistons sponsored by the Scranton Elks Club.


Philadelphia 76ers in Scranton 1972 , John Long Center, University of Scranton

Scranton Basketball

The Philadelphia 76ers are a franchise that has seen great success and also historically bad teams. In 1972, the Sixers were a team in transition. They had just fired Jack Ramsay.  Their best player, Billy Cunningham, had left to play in the rival ABA.  Their new head coach was inexperienced.

In the 1970s , The Sixers were trying to build their fan base in the Northeast and through out the state. They scheduled many games in the 1960s and 1970s. They even played a regular season game locally.

The Sixers won the game 113 to 102. The Bullets were led by Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. Both players led the Bullets to the 1978 NBA championship. They also both are members of the basketball Hall of Fame.

The game was held for the benefit of the United Fund of the United Way.


Elvin Hayes shoots over the 76ers.

1976-1977 Scranton Apollos, EBA Champions, coach Stan Novack

Scranton Basketball

The 1976-77 Scranton Apollos won the EBA title with a thrilling win in Allentown.
It was the first title for long-time owner Art Pachter in 15 tries. Scranton did so without the services of Charlie Criss who went to Spain to continue his basketball career with the Washington Generals touring with the Harlem Globe Trotters.  Scranton knew this could happen before the season started.  They still were able to beat Allentown. Richie Cornwall saved the Minere in game 3 in Allentown. A team effort allowed Scranton to win the EBA title before a sparse crowd of 700 at the Scranton CYC.

1976-77 EBA W L Pct. GB

Allentown Jets 21 5 .808 ..

Scranton Apollos 20 6 .769 1

Lancaster Red Roses 12 10 .545 7

Brooklyn Pros/Wilkes-Barre Barons 8 10 .444 9

Hartford Downtowners 5 19 .208 15

Hazleton Bullets/Shore Bullets 3 18 .143 15.5

Syracuse Centennials* 8 9 .471 .. *Syracuse quit the league mid-season


Allentown 124, Scranton 123

Scranton 139, Allentown 128

Scranton 127, Allentown 123

Scranton 102, Allentown 101

Stan Novack
art pachter

Doc Graham played against the Boston Beaneaters and Eddie Cicotte as well as the Reds in 1908

Scranton Baseball

” Well, you know I… I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn’t. That’s what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases — stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That’s my wish, Ray Kinsella. That’s my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?  ”

Burt Lancaster as Doc Graham

From the movie Field of Dreams

 Interesting tie to the movie Field of Dreams or just a coincidence? It turns out Doc Graham had a chance to stare down a big league pitcher.  In fact it was the pitcher from the movie,  Field of Dreams, Eddie Cicotte, also known as Knuckles.

” Hey Knuckles, what’d you throw at the kid for?”

“He winked at me” Eddie “Knuckles” Cicotte from Field of Dreams

On April 26, 1908 the Scranton Miners took on the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game. The paper referred to them as the Boston Beaneaters and the Boston Americans. They were managed by Deacon McGuire.  ( Scranton Republican April 27, 1908 p.7)  On the mound for Boston was Eddie Cicotte.  ( Eddie would later become infamous as a member of the Black Sox, he was one of the men banned from baseball for cheating .)   In 1919, Eddie Cicotte won 29 games for the White Sox. The White Sox won the American League in 1919.  Eddie won 209 games in his career and had a 2.38 ERA.

Doc Graham was an outfielder for the Scranton Miners. He had one hit in 3 tries, he also had a sacrifice.  Scranton won the game, 2-0.  A good day for ” Doc” Graham was the headline. He was referred to as Doc Graham in the Scranton Republican never as Moonlight. The Scranton Miners were the Champions of the New York State League in 1908. Doc was a good hitter and mainly played left field. In 1906, Doc led the New York State League in batting with a .336 average. Scranton also won the league title in 1906.

Also in 1908, the Scranton team took on the Cincinnati Reds in an exhibition.  On June 7, 1908 the Scranton Miners took on the Cincinnati Reds.  The pitcher for the Reds was Charlie Rhoades. Charlie pitched in only one game for the Reds in 1908.  Charlie had a career record of 7 wins 11 loses.  The Reds won the game 14-6. Doc Graham was 2 for 3.  He also had an error in the field.  The game was played at the Minooka park.  Minooka was the Sunday home to the Scranton team in 1908.

In 1908, against big league pitchers Doc Graham was 3 for 6.




“Gentleman” Jim Corbett, Boxing Champ and 1b Scranton Baseball (played with Doc Graham)

Scranton Baseball



James Corbett and his brother, Joe, played baseball for Scranton in a game in 1895. Scranton competed in the Eastern League in 1895. According to, Scranton’s team was named the Coalheavers.  Buffalo was nicknamed the Bison.  On August 12, 1895, Heavyweight World Champion Boxer Jim Corbett played 1b for Scranton against Buffalo.  He was 28 years old. He helped Scranton to a 6-3. His brother, Joe, was a member of the Scranton team and he played SS. Big Jim had 2 hits in 4 trips. “The Kid”, as Jim called his brother, was 1 for 3.  A crowd of 6,000 attended the game.  (Scranton Republican August 13, 1895 p. 7)

In 1897, Jim Corbett was now the ex-heavyweight Champion of the World. Corbett had lost his title to Bob Fitzsimmons in March of 1897. He played at least 2 games for Scranton this year. He played many games in the minors for multiple teams over his career.

In 1906, Jim is listed as a member of the Scranton franchise. He was 39 years old.  He played one game against Wilkes-Barre. He was hitless and retired after the 6th inning. He played alongside Archbald “Moonlight” Graham, also known as Doc.  He was replaced in the Scranton lineup by Ed Ashenback.

corbettJoe Corbett, SS and Pitcher