Was Chi StudeBakers' Hillery Brown Another Barrier Breaker?

NBL, BAA, and others

Postby Brian Gaynor » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:58 am

Michael Funke was very generous to mail me a copy of Solidarity magazine in which his story about the trailblazing Chicago Studebakers appears. What a thrill that must have been for Michael to hang with Dick Evans, Roosie Hudson, Tony Peyton and Bernie Price for a day in Chicago. The story details a genuine warmth that the players had for each other after all of those years. Dick Evans, the only white man in the group, and Tony Peyton hugged at Midway Airport (Evans had flown in from Sarasota, Fla.). It was as though 1992 was not so distant from 1942. There was instant familiarity and bonding.

The layout contains some great shots of the four Studebakers mugging for the camera with a bunch of local kids on a Chicago playground/basketball court (Did the kids realize they were in the presence of integration pioneers? Maybe.). There is also a great photo of the four former National Basketball League players in a vintage gym in Chicago (I wonder where that was?). The Studebakers played some of their games at DuSable High School and some at the legendary Cicero Stadium. Michael told me that they tried to get into one of the old gyms (don't remember if it was DuSable or Cicero), but it was locked up. Anyway, the story is thoroughly enjoyable. I might ask Michael if I can post it here in its entirety. ...
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Postby Jon Scott » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:10 am

Jon Scott wrote:
Brian Gaynor wrote:Given the information turning up, I would bet that Hillary Brown, at the very least, was an assistant coach for the Studebakers. And I'd also bet that Brown served as head coach in the absence of Johnny Jordan, if ever an absence or two occurred. Jordan, after all, may still have been living in South Bend, Ind., from where he had coached Notre Dame. Anyone have evidence to show Jordan had moved to Chicago for the Studebakers' season? Or was he commuting to every Studebaker game?

Jordan had played at Notre Dame in the 1930's but he didn't become coach of Notre Dame until much later (starting in the 1951-52 season).

From what I can tell, Jordan was the basketball coach at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago from the mid 30's until 1949.


He did serve a 3 year tour of duty with the Navy during WWII. How much of this was stateside (remember the Great Lakes Naval Station was nearby to Chicago so he might have been there) or away I don't know. It's still possible he may have been coaching the Studebakers during this time. (either as an 'off-duty' job when he was with the Navy or perhaps he was pulling double-duty coaching both Mt. Carmel and the Studebakers.)

FWIW, according to the Wikipedia page above, it mentions an article in the Chicago Tribune about his death published on June 15, 1991. I didn't see any articles on Newspaper Archive, perhaps someone with access to an obituary or good biography of him could give more details about where he was and what he was doing around the time period he's supposed to be coaching the Studebakers in 1942-43.


Just to follow up on my own post. When we were discussing this I requested someone at Mt. Carmel High School who had access to the yearbooks to check in on this.

I finally got a reply! According to the yearbooks anyway, Jordan was teaching history and coaching basketball at the school through 1943. Based on that I have to assume that he was moonlighting as coach of the Studebakers at the time, which keeps open the question of how much involvement and commitment he truly had with the pro team.

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Re: Was Chi StudeBakers' Hillery Brown Another Barrier Break

Postby rlee » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:56 am

From probasketballencyclopedia.com (Bill Himmelman et al):

"For the purposes of this register the coach is designated as the person that made substitution and strategy decisions during the game. Each ambiguous situation is judged according to its specific circumstances."

http://probasketballencyclopedia.com/co ... NY-JORDAN/
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Re: Was Chi StudeBakers' Hillery Brown Another Barrier Break

Postby luckyshow » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:26 pm

I understand the above discussion is about organized professional basketball, as in a league, but for all I know (which isn't much), maybe the Grumman team had wanted entry in the ABL and was denied. Anyway I still think this Grumman team was integrated at around the same time as the Studebaker and Toledo teams, and lasted longer than either

Weren't the Rens as a later year entry in the NBL, the Dayton Flyers?


I think Pop Gates has some sort of journal at the Harlem branch of the New York City public library. Now that my caregiver days are over, maybe I can get there sometime and see what he might say about this team.
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