Scranton Basketball breaks the color barrier

Pop GatesScranton’s minor league basketball history goes back to the 1940’s. There have been Scranton entries in The EBL and the CBA. The Scranton franchise was first known as the Miners, celebrating the mining history of the area. In the 1970’s the CBA entry was known as the Scranton Apollos and the final year of their existence the Scranton franchise was known as the Aces, celebrating the city’s love of card games and illegal joker poker machines. Scranton had many standout players over the years including Willy Somerset, Jim Boeheim and Charllie Chriss.

Believe it or not, Scranton had a part in breaking the color barrier in basketball. Bernard “Red” Sarachek coached the Scranton Miners of the American Basketball League. Red was a highly respected coach when basketball was in its infancy.

With Scranton in the late 40s, the Bronx-born Sarachek broke the league’s segregation rules by playing Dolly King, William “Pop” Gates, and Eddie Younger at the same time.

Pop Gates went on to a stellar pro career that led to international fame with the Harlem Globetrotters and eventual enshrinement in the NBA Hall of Fame. Pop Gates also coached the Miners to back to back ABL titles in 1949 and 1950. “Pop” Gates was considered one of the nation’s finest basketball players. Always a scoring threat, Gates was a complete ballplayer on offense, a defensive specialist and a strong rebounder.

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