Ties to the courts of old Edgewood
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By Nathan Pace, Online Editor
and Al Stilley, Editor
A new hall of fame for local basketball players honored its first inductees July 23, including Southport alumni Louie Dampier and Pat Williams and Indiana University standouts George McGinnis and Steve Downing. The inaugural Edgewood-Epler-Kautsky Basketball Hall of Fame, was presented by the Southport/Perry Township Historical Society.
The three categories for the inductees are: (1.) those who attended Edgewood Grade School; (2.) those who traveled to play games or scrimmages regularly on basketball courts outside the school; and (3.) those who were on the professional team promoted and owned by Southside grocery store owner Frank Kautsky in the 1930s and 1940s. For all categories, each inductee also would have played collegiate and professional basketball.
"A lot of the people who went to Edgewood are gone; you’re never going to have that chance again,” said inductee Pat Williams. “To understand the rich tradition that Edgewood was all about, is (to know) the people that came through. A lot of great people came out of that school, and generally the Southside too.”
Southside historian and The Southsider Voice columnist Fred Shonk served as master of ceremonies for the induction ceremony at the Perry Township Education Center.“
History, I love it,” Shonk said. “We began working on this many years ago. To see it become real is an honor for everyone who played on the courts.”
The Edgewood courts covered a small one block area near Epler and Madison avenues and attracted the best players from area high schools with many players continuing in college and the pros. In their remarks July 23, Louie Dampier and Williams mentioned the high level of competition on the courts made them better basketball players.
“The reason we are here tonight is because they had seven or eight basketball goals,” Dampier recalled. “They had one full court, and then the others were just one basket. Some of the best players and that’s where the competition was. That’s how players got better as you heard Pat Williams say.”
Dampier concluded, “It just happened to be the area where the best players came whether they went to Southport or wherever.”
Dampier told the story of how he ended up playing basketball for the University of Kentucky instead of I.U. However, George McGinnis and Steve Downing played on the Edgewood courts and later for the Hoosiers. Names of the inaugural inductees will be on a plaque that will be displayed at different businesses in the Edgewood area.
The Southport/Perry Township Historical Society plans to induct more Edgewood players who went on to play collegiate and professional basketball. For inductees like Williams, the night was a great reminder of the impact Edgewood Grade School made in athletics.
“You think about it, basketball, wrestling, swimming, cross-country, track, for a while Southport dominated the state and a lot of them came out of Edgewood,” Williams said.
The “Friends of Edgewood” and grade school alumni, spear-headed by Todd Lobdell and Barry Hix, have kept the school and its history alive along with newspaper columns written by Shonk. They are close to placing another plaque with a basketball goal where the courts once stood to commemorate all the players who utilized the courts. It is to be placed near the building that is headquarters for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers.
More inductees will be announced in 2020.
Paul Bailey, (deceased) Edgewood Grade School principal for three decades; mentored student Frank Kautsky in basketball skills; later played on the Kautskys pro team.
Louie Dampier , Southport High School standout and Indiana All-Star; starred for University of Kentucky’s “Rupp’s Runts,” 1966 NCAA runner-up team; played for ABA Kentucky Colonels and NBA San Antonio Spurs, Southport Wall of Fame inductee.
Steve Downing, led Washington High School to 31-0 record and 1969 state title; starred at Indiana University; played for Boston Celtics 1974 NBA championship team.
Oral Hildebrand (deceased), Southport native; Edgewood court player and played for the Kautksys; led Butler University to 1929 national basketball title; began pro baseball career in 1930 with Indianapolis Indians; played in majors with Indians, 1939 World Series champion Browns, and Yankees.
Frank Kautsky, (deceased) owned Kautsky’s grocery in Edgewood for 40 years; co-founded the India-napolis Kautskys of the Midwest Conference that became the National Basketball League in 1937; Kautskys players included Branch McCracken (1932-1938) and John Wooden (1933-1939).
George McGinnis, Mr. Basketball Indiana and star of Washington Continentals 1969 state championship team; high school and college teammate of Downing; I.U. standout who became first sophomore to lead Big 10 in scoring and rebounding; led Indiana Pacers to two ABA titles; three-time NBA All-Star; played in NBA with 76ers, Nuggets and Pacers.
Pat Williams, Southport High School standout basketball player; Hanover College all-conference basketball player; founder of Pistol Pat basketball camps; Southport Wall of Fame inductee