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Please credit "Terry Frei's book March 1939: Before the Madness."  

 

MadnessCoverJune03.jpg

OldOregon1.jpg

The Ducks' starters with coach Howard Hobson, at right. Guard Bobby Anet is seated.

Around him, from left: Slim Wintermute, Wally Johansen, John Dick, Laddie Gale.  

 

 

Roster.jpg

 

NOTE: [Bracketed material] below has been added here for context and

background purposes, but is covered elsewhere in the book.   

 

Fishermen

 

Bobby Anet and Wally Johansen lived across the street from each

other in Astoria, on the south shore of the Columbia River and

only six miles from where it flows into the Pacific Ocean at the

extreme northwest tip of Oregon. Both born in August 1917 and

only 15 days apart in age, the boys were inseparable ever since . . .

well, since at least as far back as they could remember.

 

Despite its well-deserved image as a haven for Finnish immigrants,

many of them gill-net fishermen, Astoria’s populace was diverse.

Heck, there weren’t only Finns; there also were many Swedes

and Norwegians. And, as years went on, Chinese and Japanese

immigrants also joined the labor force.

 

Anet and Johansen were raised in Astoria’s Uniontown, or

what also was called “Finntown” or “Little Helsinki.” Although

their Lincoln Street was too hilly for a hoop, they knew the other

hotspots in town, and if local drivers came across a street basketball

game in progress, they stopped for a suitable break in the action

and a wave-through before they proceeded.

 

Everybody knew the local protocols in Astoria—and, for the

most part, followed them.

 

Founded in 1811 as Fort Astor by John Jacob Astor’s American

Fur Company, the town’s character and economic lifeblood were

reflected in Astoria High’s athletic team nickname: Fishermen.

In the late 19th century, the area was the world’s largest source

of salmon, but the aggressive harvesting took its toll and by the

1920s, the fishing industry, while still viable, had slowed. A devastating

1922 fire destroyed 32 blocks, roughly one-quarter of the

downtown, and about 200 businesses, including a logging mill.

Wooden plank streets fueled the fire, and the rebuilding efforts and

strategies recognized that it was imperative to replace all streets

with pavement, an expensive proposition. For a brief time, the Ku

Klux Klan gained a foothold in Astoria, but its influence waned and

a Klan burning of a 35-foot cross on the area’s Coxcomb Hill in

1925 was considered a last hurrah.

 

Bobby Anet’s grandfather and grandmother came to the United

States in the late 1870s, shortening the family name from its original

Anetjärve (“people by the lake”) and settling in Astoria after a

brief residency in Michigan. After a failed 1896 fishermen’s strike

against the canneries and their fish trapping methods, about 200 of

the Finns formed their own Union Fishermen’s Cooperative Packing

Company, and it flourished, becoming the biggest in Astoria.

 

Bobby’s father, Charles Anet, became the secretary-treasurer of the

cooperative and also was involved in other businesses, including

the area lumber mills. He married Hilda Urell, a Swedish-Finnish

woman seven years his junior, and they had four children, two boys

and two girls. The family’s four-bedroom home reflected an upper-middle

class status, even in the Depression years. One of the family

pastimes was to look out from the house on the hill, down to the

Columbia River, and watch the ferry run between the Oregon and

Washington sides. At one point, Bobby and his younger brother,

Cliff, and their friends constructed homemade sailboats out of

salmon boxes and tried to race the ferry across the river. If Bobby’s

ramshackle boat had capsized, someone else might have been the

Oregon Webfoots’ captain in 1938–39. Some folks on the ferry

grinned at the boys’ nerve, but the crew was not amused.

Hilda Anet got a phone call from the captain. “Get those kids

off the river right now!” he roared.

 

From then on, Hilda was even more encouraging of Bobby’s

passion for sports.

 

Across the street, Wally Johansen’s father, Arthur, was a fireman

and his mother, Anna, was a housewife.

 

In the wake of the huge fire, Anet and Johansen and all the Astoria

boys of their generation were excited when the new Liberty

Theater opened in 1925 as part of the rebuilding of downtown.

In the tradition of the times, silent movies were shown around

Vaudeville-type acts. The next year, schoolchildren reveled in a

three-day Astoria celebration to commemorate the opening of the

Astoria Column, a 125-foot high monument decorated with 14

paintings of Astoria historical significance. The Column became

a mandatory stop for visitors and tourists and a source of pride

for local residents.

 

Anet and Johansen went though the town’s youth basketball

program together, winning a state age-group title playing for

young YMCA physical director and coach Dick Strite, who took

great pride in the progress of his young charges. Born in Maryland

and raised in New York, Strite was a star athlete at the YMCA-run

McBurney Prep School in New York and a lifeguard on Long

Beach in the summers. He then attended the YMCA-run school in

Springfield where James Naismith, then a YMCA physical director

himself, invented the game. (At the time, it was called the International

YMCA College.) After returning to New York, he got his

YMCA career started in Brooklyn. Soon, though, he succumbed to

the urge to head west to join his brother, Dan, and they worked together

in the lumber trade in the forests near Garibaldi, in Oregon’s

Tillamook Bay area. Calling on his YMCA experience and connections,

Strite soon landed the physical director job at the Astoria Y

and got out of the forests.

 

Astoria’s population dipped from around 14,000 in 1920, to

about 10,000 in 1930, and basketball could be a distraction. As

Anet and Johansen reached Astoria High, their coach was the

beloved “Honest John” Warren, a native of eastern Oregon who

got into coaching at Astoria following his football career at the U

of O and his 1928 graduation. Realizing he knew far more about

football than basketball, he attended summer basketball coaching

camps in the early years of his Astoria tenure. A quick learner, he

guided the Fishermen to four state high school basketball championships

in six seasons—in 1930, ’32, ’34, and ’35. In writing

about Warren’s early teams, the Oregonian’s L. H. Gregory, who

became sports editor at the state’s largest newspaper in 1921 and

never felt as if writing about high school sports and athletes was

beneath him, labeled them the “Flying Finns,” but was corrected

and told there was only one Finn on the team. By the time the

1934 and ’35 teams also won state titles, though, the nickname

fi t. The boys from Lincoln Street, plus several other Finnish boys,

were instrumental in winning those final two titles. The Fishermen

were 39-4 and beat Klamath Union in the 1934 championship

game, then repeated in ’35, going 40-4 and knocking off

Portland’s Jefferson High to win the title.

 

By the time they were leaving high school, Anet and Johansen

had been working in the fishing industry for several years. That was

typical in Astoria for the teenaged boys, even in a time when the

U.S. economic malaise considerably weakened the industry. While

working for the cooperative in his teenage years, Bobby Anet was

captain of several gill-net boats and cannery tenders, the boats that

transported the fi sh to the cannery so the fishermen could stay out

on the water. He was out both on the Columbia River and on the

Pacific Ocean. Johansen’s experience likely was similar, in part because

the two boys seemed to do everything together.

 

Between Anet and Johansen’s high school championship seasons,

Chancellor Adolf Hitler assumed complete and undisputed

power in Germany following the death of President Paul von Hindenburg

in August 1934. With so many immigrants from Europe

in Astoria, the situation was the topic of discussion in the bars and

on the docks. That is, they talked about it when they weren’t talking

about those boys who were making the town the high school

basketball capital of Oregon—including those two guards who

played so well together.

Astoria.jpg 

  Astoria, Oregon

 

Using the designations that appeared in lineups, programs, and

box scores, Anet was the “lg” (left guard), Johansen the “rg” (right

guard). At Astoria and almost everywhere else, offensive diagrams

and plays were drawn up with both guards roughly parallel on

each side, and either could handle the ball and start the play. As

the energizer and leader, Anet ran the show for the Fishermen, and

he didn’t need to score to be effective: his highest-scoring game in

high school was only eight points. Johansen was the quiet, steady,

and reliable complement in the backcourt, both in Astoria and later

in Eugene. He could keep up with Anet, and he was a steady, two-handed

outside shooter with a perfect follow-through that coaches

used as an ideal for others.

 

Bobby and Wally didn’t have to look for each other on the floor.

They knew where the other was. They headed off to the U of O

together. The catch, though, was that Anet went to Eugene on a

football scholarship as a quarterback, and while he intended to

play two sports, the “second” sport was baseball.

 

That plan would change.

 

Other Fishermen followed Anet and Johansen to Eugene. The

first, Ted Sarpola, was a year behind Anet and Johansen and led

the Fishermen in scoring for three consecutive seasons. In an era of

haphazardly kept records, he generally was considered the fi rst Oregon

high school player to score 1,000 points in a career. Another

year behind him, the lanky Earl Sandness took advantage of his deft

inside moves and broke Sarpola’s record for most points in the fourgame

1937 state tournament, scoring 68. A fifth ex-Astoria player,

Toivo Piippo, also was on what Coach Hobson later listed as his full

20-man Oregon basketball roster for the 1938–39 season.

 

The Astoria pipeline didn’t involve only players, but also a

coach and a sports writer.

 

As Hobson was about to be hired at Oregon in the spring of

1935, after Anet and Johansen’s senior high school seasons, he got

fully behind “Honest John” Warren as the choice for the coach of

the Oregon freshman teams, including in the basketball program.

Warren’s hiring, in fact, was announced at the same time as Hobson’s.

Any Fishermen who chose the U of O would be playing for

their former high school coach in their first year in Eugene.

All of that was stunningly similar to a plotline of [former Long

Island University basketball coach] Clair Bee’s

Chip Hilton books. When Chip and a handful of his Valley Falls

High School teammates left their small town and all went to

State University, so did their high school coach, the beloved and

sage Hank Rockwell. Bee’s book about Chip’s senior high school

baseball season, Pitchers’ Duel, ends with the guest speaker at the

Valley Falls baseball banquet, State’s athletic director, announcing

the hiring of Rockwell as the university’s new freshman coach in

football, basketball, and baseball. Chip and his pals, of course, are

ecstatic that “The Rock” will be joining them at college.

 

Bee knew and coached against Hobson many times in the years

leading up to the period when he began writing the Hilton books

in the late 1940s [less than a decade after undefeated LIU, with the

benefit of a stunningly soft schedule that included many soft touches

and only one true road game, won the second national invitation

tournament in 1939, a six-team event run and ridicuously overhyped

by the New York Basketball Writers.] Bee undoubtedly noticed how the Webfoots’

coach assembled a significant portion of his glory-years roster from

one small town. In fact, New York scribes jumped on the Astoria

angle when writing about the Oregon team, and Bee couldn’t have

missed that, either. Bee knew that Oregon also had brought in

the town’s beloved coach to head up the freshmen programs. Bee

acknowledged he drew on his background and experiences in writing

the Hilton books, including when he used Seton Hall star Bob

Davies as the model for Chip. He made Valley Falls High School’s

teams the Big Reds; he could have called them the Fishermen.

 

And what of Anet and Johansen’s YMCA coach? Dick Strite

left Astoria before his youth team stars reached high school,

transferring to become physical director at the YMCA in Spokane,

Washington. Next, he moved to the Eugene Y, and apparently

after dabbling in sports writing on the side, he ended up the

sports editor of the Eugene Morning News in 1933, and then took

over the same job with the afternoon Eugene Register-Guard in

1937. The YMCA man became a newspaperman. In his travels,

he played basketball on various town and amateur teams. He also

served as a referee for a while, until he groused that anyone who

paid a fee and passed a lightweight rules test could officiate and

that the standards were too low, so he didn’t want to be part of it

any longer. By the 1938–39 season, he was in his mid-30s, married

with two children, and with the two-finger typing eccentricities

and habits common to the business.

 

A Eugene native who briefly worked for Strite after graduating

from high school right after the end of World War II was Paul

Simon, the son of the pastor at Eugene’s Grace Lutheran Church.

Much later, Simon [by then a former publisher, U.S. Senator and

presidential candidate] recalled: “Dick Strite wrote good stories, and

expected the same of me. He also had the affliction of most journalists

in that day, a love of whiskey and smoking. His top right-hand

drawer had a fifth of whiskey in it, which he made clear I should

not touch.” That was a decade after the Tall Firs passed through

Eugene, but it’s reasonable to assume Strite hadn’t just taken up

smoking and drinking at the time. Yet it’s also perilous to apply

modern standards to that, considering a bottle in a desk drawer

wasn’t much of a rebel act in those times, and it could involve a

toast of relief when another edition was put to bed. In addition to

newspaper traditions, in which alcohol seemed as much a part of

the business as typewriters and carbon paper, think of Ed Asner, as

news director Lou Grant, occasionally pulling a bottle out of the

drawer on the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s. It didn’t seem

irresponsible at all, did it? It was the way it was in newsrooms.

 

During the late 1930s, Strite occasionally mentioned his connection

to Anet and Johansen in print, but didn’t overdo it.

 

So Warren, Anet, and Johansen—and, in a way, Strite [who

became a prominent part of this story] — turned

out to be a package deal, with other ex-Fishermen following them

in subsequent years. 

 

DuckDopeJohansen.jpg

Wally Johansen

ANETLarge.jpg

 

Bobby Anet, the captain and racehorse pont

guard before there were point guards.

 

Laddie and Slim

 

In the 1930s, the NCAA rules governing recruiting were virtually

nonexistent.

 

It’s also a misconception that coaches didn’t pursue the top

prospects and instead just coached whoever showed up. They recruited,

recruited hard, and recruited with virtually no restraints.

 

There were scholarships, but they were loosely defined, and the aid

often directly drew on the support of athletic department boosters.

So that was the system—and a chaotic one at that—as Coach

Hobson went after the two boys who would be his senior star big

men by 1938–39.

 

Because his father was an engineer with the Southern Pacific

Railroad, Lauren “Laddie” Gale moved around in his youth. Laddie

was born in Grants Pass, in southern Oregon, but in his early

years, he lived with his father, also Lauren, and mother, Charlotte,

in the rural country nearby. His early swimming hole was the

Rogue River, near Hellgate Canyon.

 

Soon, though, his parents were divorced, and Laddie’s father

eventually was married five times. Charlotte married another railroad

man, Bill Smith, who worked in the Southern Pacific’s Bridge

and Building (B&B) department. In the custody of his mother and

stepfather, Laddie lived for a while in Portland. His next move,

as he was about to enter high school, was to Oakridge, another

small town along the McKenzie River about 40 miles east of Eugene.

There, he rejoined his engineer father. With a roundhouse

for maintenance of locomotives, Oakridge was a Southern Pacific

“helper” station at the base of the Cascade Range, on the Cascade

Line that went over Willamette Pass. Laddie enjoyed the smalltown

life much more than he had Portland, though he occasionally

returned to the city to visit his mother. There was no estrangement

there. He simply decided he was more suited for Oakridge.

 

Young Laddie was popular, mischievous, and adventurous, with

a terrific barbed sense of humor. That stayed with him for life, and

he enjoyed pulling the legs of those who asked about his upbringing

in Oakridge, leaving the impression that Laddie had lived in

the woods alone or even in a boxcar. There’s no doubt that he was

poor during his Oakridge period, as so many were in those Depression

years of the early 1930s. His father often was gone with trains,

leaving Laddie on his own. It helped that he enjoyed hunting and

fishing, and it was for more than sport. But he wasn’t Tarzan in

the jungle, either. His son, Hank Gale, chuckles and affectionately

says he heard his father tell many tales to others, with variations

each time, and that when Hank winced or tried to speak up, Laddie

would say good-naturedly, “Shut up, kid.” They were stories spun

from the fabric of truth, not falsehoods.

 

The even smaller town of Westfir was four miles away, and the

Number 22 railroad tunnel was between the two. Laddie landed a

job cleaning up at the Westfir hall where each week movies were

shown on one weeknight and a dinner was held the next. Once,

he was cutting through the railroad tunnel when a train came

along. He first tried to outrun it, and then jumped to the side and

suffered a broken kneecap. (He had scars and visible remnants of

wire, used for repairs in those times, to back up his story.) That

slowed his high school basketball career, but once he recovered, it

kicked into high gear. For a summer, he also worked atop nearby

Larison Rock, a forest fire lookout station with a tiny cupola-type

house, and he later told Hank—and this one seemed to add up,

too—that he sometimes would run into town, three miles away,

for a date, and run back to be on the job at the lookout the next

morning. A Civilian Conservation Corps camp was in the area,

also, and one of the rituals became the CCC men lined up along

one wall and the local men lined up along another at the local

dances, glaring at each other and competing for the attention of

the local girls and women.

 

In the 1935 Oregon state high school tournament, the Gale-led

Oakridge Warriors met the loaded Astoria Fishermen. John

Warren and several of his players were impressed with Gale in

a losing cause, in part because his one-handed shooting was so

accurate and audacious, especially for a kid who, at 6-4, usually

was the tallest player on the floor. After joining the Oregon staff,

Warren urged his new boss to go after Gale—and Hobson did it

with great enthusiasm. Gale originally intended to attend Oregon

State, but the coaching changes in Eugene altered the picture and

Gale changed his plans and told Hobson, all right, he would become

one of the Webfoots. That left veteran Beavers coach Slats

Gill, a former OSC player himself, steaming because it came not

long after Hobson also poached the even taller Urgel “Slim” Wintermute,

the 6-foot-8 giant.

 

Wintermute was born in Portland, but his family had moved to

Longview in southwest Washington, and that’s where he played

his high school ball. Hobson gave Wintermute’s high school coach,

Scott Milligan, considerable credit for being patient with the gangly

Wintermute at Longview and nurturing him. At the time, having a

big man (or boy) in the middle wasn’t universally valued, especially

if a coach favored the sedate game featuring outside set shots. In

fact, a big man’s major attraction for some coaches was that he

could win so many of the jump balls held after every basket. Many

agreed that procedure was stultifying and cheered the rules change

before the 1937–38 season. Also, many of the coaches who did appreciate

the big men for more than that wanted them to attempt to

play the role of goaltender, swatting shots away as they were about

to drop into the net.

 

Slim’s father, a mill worker, was killed in an accident in 1933,

and Slim and his mother returned to Portland to live as he was

about to head to college. Pencil-thin at 165 pounds, Slim deserved

his nickname.

 

After Slim indicated he planned to attend Oregon State, Hobson,

the new Oregon coach, didn’t back off. Actually, a coach couldn’t

even be sure he had landed a player until the young man showed up

on campus, enrolled, and attended classes, so Hobson’s persistence

wasn’t surprising or dirty pool. He became more hopeful when

Wintermute agreed to visit the Oregon campus in the summer of

1935. Hobson made plans to pick him up and drive him to Eugene,

but when the coach arrived at the Wintermutes’ home, he was told

that Slim was at a dental appointment. Rather than wait, Hobson

went to the dentist’s office—and the first person he saw was Oregon

State star football player Frank Ramsey, there to keep watch over

Slim. Soon, Slats Gill showed up, too. Gill lectured Hobson that

he needed to accept that the young center wanted to go to Oregon

State. Hobson said they were friends and both had been Phi Delta

Theta men on their respective campuses, but that wasn’t going to

save the relationship if Gill prevented Wintermute from visiting the

Oregon campus, as planned. Gill said no, insisting he was taking

Wintermute to the Oregon State campus for the weekend.

When Wintermute emerged from the dentist’s examination

room, he was embarrassed. He rode home with Gill, but Hobson

followed and waited outside. Finally, Wintermute emerged and

told Hobson he had decided to go to Corvallis for the weekend. But

he got in the car and began a deeper conversation with Hobson,

and eventually Wintermute consented to give Oregon a chance and

visit Eugene instead.

 

He soon said he was going to Oregon.

 

Hobson estimated that he visited Wintermute seven times more

before the center actually enrolled at the U of O, and much of it

involved the details of lining up Wintermute’s mother with a place

to live and a job at Washburne’s department store in Eugene, plus

a part-time job for Slim himself, and then getting them moved to

the college town.

 

* * *

 

As that summer wound down, Congress passed, and first-term

President Franklin Roosevelt signed, the Neutrality Act of 1935,

banning the U.S. from trading arms and other military materials

with belligerents in a war. Roosevelt protested that he should have

the power to judge which nation was the aggressor and adjust policy

accordingly, but when it was clear a bill wouldn’t pass with that

kind of provision, he went along. To many, the Neutrality Act was

another means to lessen the chances of America being drawn into

another European war, and of the men heading off to college—and

so many others—someday having to fight in it.

 

In Corvallis, Slats Gill was determined to make one more run at

Wintermute and Gale before the fall term opened. But the Beavers

coach couldn’t find the two prospects in Eugene. The savvy Hobson,

expecting Gill’s final moves, sent them to a cabin along the

McKenzie River and told them to stay there, lay low, and have

a good time. Laddie and Slim fished, hiked, boated through the

white-water rapids on the river, and talked. By the time they enrolled

at Oregon in September, they had forged the foundation of a

lifelong friendship. It wouldn’t be, and couldn’t be, as tight as the

relationship between Bobby Anet and Wally Johansen, the Astoria

Fishermen, but it was signifi cant in the Webfoots’ success. The

two big men knew their games and even their personalities were

complementary. An entrenched starter, forward Dave Silver, was a

year ahead of them, so as they looked around them, they thought

about which teammate might be the third member of the starting

front line by the time they were seniors.

DuckDopeGale.jpg

Hall of Famer Laddie Gale

WINTERMUTELLarge.jpg

Slim Wintermute

 

From the Gorge

 

John Henry Dick’s story was quintessential Oregon, and he passed

along details of his family history to his three sons.

 

His father, Franklin, was a young, successful chicken farmer in

Iowa who became ill and visited a country doctor. He was told:

Mr. Dick, sorry to break the news, but you have consumption.

You have perhaps six months to live. Facing that diagnosis of tuberculosis

with bravery but determination, Franklin decided to see

more of the world in his time left, sold his chicken farm, visited the

East Coast, and, running low on money, returned home. He visited

another doctor for a second opinion, or at least for an update on

his timetable and prognosis. The second doctor was incredulous.

Consumption? No, what you have, Mr. Dick, is an ulcer. We can

fight, and maybe even control, that!

 

Bolstered by the new diagnosis but determined to get a fresh

start, Franklin took the money he had left, jumped on a train, and

headed west. Deciding his cash wouldn’t last all the way to the

coast, or long in Portland or any other major city, he disembarked

in The Dalles, the small farming community at the eastern end of

the Columbia River Gorge. Franklin landed a job as a clerk in a

local lawyer’s office. Showing an aptitude for the work, he studied

and passed the bar examination, becoming a small-town lawyer

himself. He married a J.C. Penney seamstress, Louise, and started

a family, and John was the second oldest of the four Dick sons,

behind big brother Bill. The twist was that because both Astoria

and The Dalles were on the south bank of the Columbia, in theory,

if young John Dick had dropped a bottle with a message into the

river, young Bobby Anet or Wally Johansen eventually might have

been able to fish it out as it was about to reach the Pacific.

Dick discussed his upbringing and more in a lengthy interview

with Oregon athletic department official Jeff Eberhart for the Order

of the O newsletter, distributed to former lettermen. Only part

of the interview ran in the newsletter. Eberhart graciously passed

along an entire transcript.

 

“Sports and the local trials were the biggest things in town,”

Dick told Eberhart. “The entire business district would close an

hour before a high school football game and wouldn’t reopen until

about an hour after the game had ended. We had 5,500 people in

The Dalles at that time and we’d seat about 4,000 to 4,500 people

at those high school games.”

 

When John was a sophomore and big brother Bill was a junior

and star of the team, The Dalles High lost a playoff game and the

townsfolk were distraught. Bill Dick told his father that his “little”

brother, John—already a shade over 6-foot-4 but still a string

bean—showed promise but wasn’t yet tough or strong enough.

Franklin owned farmland he intended to turn into a wheat ranch.

Part of it was still heavily wooded. Every day over the next summer,

Franklin drove John to the farmland, handed him a lunch,

and left him behind to work on clearing the acreage. When The

Dalles High School opened again the next fall, John was beginning

to look a lot more like the powerful forward who played for the

Webfoots. In the next two years, both with Bill as a teammate and

after Bill graduated, John became known as a football star playing

end and linebacker.

 

Howard Hobson and John Warren recruited Dick for basketball,

and they insisted he could be a college star in the sport if he

put his mind to it. They knew they had a leg up in the recruiting

because Bill was at Oregon, playing both football and baseball.

(He eventually transferred to Willamette University.) John Dick

went to the Oregon campus several times to visit his brother and

attend games.

 

“I wanted to be a student at the university long before I came

here,” John said. “I was also recruited to play baseball and football

at Oregon, but you couldn’t play any other sport if football

was giving you the scholarship. I chose basketball because I knew

we were going to have a pretty good team, and it also gave me the

chance to play baseball, which was great because ‘Hobby’ was the

baseball coach as well.”

 

Dick was charismatic and a natural leader, and he was elected

the freshman class president. He remained involved in student body

politics and spread thin and reluctantly gave up baseball

after his freshman year. But his baseball connection allowed him

to become friends with former Webfoot infielder Joe Gordon, then

in the Yankees’ minor-league system and about to reach the major

leagues. The friendship lasted decades.

 

“Managing my time became an issue, so I chose to concentrate

on one sport,” Dick said. “You have to remember that these were

the Depression years, so we had to work for our scholarships.

Our room, board and tuition were paid for, but we had to buy

our own books.”

 

Dick joined the Sigma Nu fraternity, which had several members

from The Dalles and also many athletes, including his eventual

basketball teammates Wally Johansen, Bobby Anet, and Ted Sarpola—

all from Astoria. Dick made pocket money stocking

campus cigarette machines. Despite the lingering effects of the

Depression, the good-times mood was prevalent on campus, and

Dick unabashedly joined in the partying. The students didn’t have

to hide it, either, in the wake of the December 1933 end of Prohibition.

As Dick became one of the most-liked men on campus and

a student government leader, his attitude was reflected in what he

later told his own sons: “You can’t have too few enemies and too

many friends.”

JohnDickPresLarge.JPG

Future captain of supercarrier USS Saratoga

and future Admiral John Dick, the leading

scorer in the first NCAA title game, as the

University of Oregon's student body president.