Terrible Swedes

The New York Rens, et al

Terrible Swedes

Postby HistoryofWomensBasketball » Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:32 pm

Does anyone out there have some info on this team? I do have some from newspaperarchives but trying to find more on this team created by C.M. Olson.

John Molina

Preservationist of History of Womens Basketball

Co-Author of upcoming book on the All American Red Heads

2007 inductee CT Womens Basketball HOF
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Postby Dementia Man » Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:54 am

I don't have a proper file on the Swedes, but have picked up mentions of them along the way while researching the early years of the Harlem Globe Trotters, so I will post an eccentric assortment of notes ... The club was launched in the early 1920s and was always based in the Heartland, first in Coffeyville KS and then Cassville MO ... Within a decade, the Swedes -- with two units in some seasons -- had become the premier exhibition basketball attraction in the western and middle western states, even as the Original Celtics forged their legend in the east ... Not to say that the Swedes represented anywhere near the basketball excellence of the Celtics -- they often struggled against local amateur sides -- but Olson was a good showman and a top ballyhoo artist ... And, until the Globe Trotters gained dominance of his market, he made a decent living ... When challenged by the Trotters, the Swedes' owner seemed to concentrate more on winning games and playing tougher opposition, with some success ... But, by the mid-1930s, the Swedes were yesterday's news ... A lifelong innovator, he eventually withdrew from men's exhibition basketball to form the female All-American Redheads, a franchise that outlasted him and was, in one form or another, still operating in the 1960s.

Here are some glimpses of Olson's Terrible Swedes in action:

Oakland CA: February 13, 1925
(St. Elizabeth’s) … Oakland Knights of Columbus 26, Olson’s Terrible Swedes 24 (Olson 7, Pounds 9, Johnson 0, Newell 0, Williams 9)

Marion OH: February 24, 1926
(Star Auditorium) … Olson’s Terrible Swedes 35, Isaly Dairies 34 (2ot) (Olson 13, Pound 6, Elliott 7, Reed 0, Risto 9)

Beloit WI: December 3, 1926 (Friday)
Beloit Fairies 44, Olson’s Terrible Swedes 35 … Edwin Marteney of Swedes high with 19 … Kreuger, Krizenky & Dowd 10 apiece for winners … Swedes said from Coffeyville KS … Other Swedes are C.M. Olson, Orin Reed, John Elliott, Bonnie Stewart and Pound.

Pullman WA: January 1, 1934
Washington State College 39, Olson’s Terrible Swedes 27 … WSC led, 12-10, at halftime.

Salem OR: January 5, 1934 (Friday)
Olson’s Terrible Swedes 27, Willamette University 22 … Swedes from Cassville MO, led by C.M. (Ole) Olson, 13 seasons with the team, a great passer at 5-9, plus Dutch Richeson, ex AAU All-American who managed the now-disbanded eastern unit, Guss Babb of Pittsburgh KS Normal at center, Wayne Howdyshell and Ed Grant at guards

Tacoma WA: January 6, 1934
(Lincoln High Gym) … Olson’s Terrible Swedes 47, Superior Dairy 25 (Ed Grant 26, Olson 0, Hutton 7, Pettigrew 8, Richeson 6) … Ed Grant, of Emporia KS Teachers College & Missouri School of Mines, in second year with Swedes … was with eastern unit in 1932-33, both teams consolidated this season … Grant is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds … Swedes were in Tacoma in 1932 ... beat Hoskins' Meccas ... from Cassville MO, led by C.M. (Ole) Olson, 13 seasons with the outfit ... 5-9 great passer, Dutch Richeson ex AAU All American managed eastern team, Gus Babb of Pittsburgh Normal KS at center, Wayne Howdyshell and Grant at guards … Ed Grant’s brother, Ernie, is a room clerk at the Hotel Winthrop in Tacoma; they haven’t seen one another in 11 years

Turlock CA: January 11, 1934
(HS Gym) … Olson’s Terrible Swedes 42, Turlock Owls 35 (Grant 20) … Ed Grant, Gus Babb, Dutch Richeson, Wayne Howdyshell and Ole Olson are the Swedes, who claimed 120 wins in the 1932-33 season … They also claim not to have a lost a game in the “western states” and to have won 60 in a row from December 13, 1932 through February 23, 1933 … Olson, in his 14th year, is “said to be the only player in the history of basketball who has mastered the science of backhand passing.” – Modesto CA Bee & News Herald, Jan. 9, 1934 … This is the third season in a row that the Swedes have played the Owls here.

San Diego CA: January 27, 1934
(SD State Gym, “packed house”) … Olson’s Terrible Swedes 29, San Diego State College 23 (Dutch Richeson 11, R. Hutton 10, C.M. “Ole” Olson, Wayne Howdyshell, Ed Grant, Gus Babb) … Swedes led, 17-10, at the half … Swedes displayed “a remarkable array of long shots.” … This is the first time that Olson, the team owner, has shown here ... San Diego Union: “Olson generally is considered the greatest back-handed passer in the game, and his comic antics on the court have won him acclaim throughout the Swedes’ current nationwide tour. He has a good running mate to aid him in his work as comedian, diminutive Dutch Richeson being a master clown and player. The latter specializes in “rolling” the ball around the opposition … “Richeson and Olson bounced the ball off their heads, fired backward passes and did everything but pull burning cigars out of their jerseys.” Added the San Diego Union … Ole Olson “considered greatest back-handed passer in the game” … plus guards Ed Grant and Wayne Howdyshell and veteran captain-center Gus Babb … over past 13 years, team claims to have performed before 1,000,000 fans, … R. Hutton played center … San Diego State was captained by Art Linkletter, future radio and TV personality, the team’s starting center … Swedes won 120 games last year, losing just 8, and had a run of 60 straight victories during their unmarred invasion of the west … they appeared in California, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Iowa and other states … defeated 16 college and university teams last year and received 2,300 applications for games … they will play in almost every state before the present tour expires.

Evansville IN: December 4, 1934
Olson’s Terrible Swedes 34, Servel 31 … From Swedes’ publicity, 1934-35 season … virtually an all-new team … with 6-10 Art (Big Boy) Stoelting joining the club … “The Swedes have an original style of play, using a minimum of effort and relying on unorthodox passes to work the ball down the court. The frog dribble, back-handed pass and other such spectacular maneuvers are a part of the Olson routine and the barnstormers even have been known to butt the ball through the webbing with their heads.” … Pete Pettigrew, forward Shaffer, center Campbell and guard Wise are the remainder of the club.

Sheboygan WI: December 5, 1934 (Wednesday)
(Eagle Auditorium, att. 1,900) … Ballhorns 39, Olson’s Terrible Swedes 33 (Schaefer 15, Campbell 5, Stoelting 3, Neely 10, Pettigrew 0) … Johnny Posewitz led the winners with 16 ... The Ballhorns, in a few short years, will morph, first, into the Art Imigs and, then, the Sheboygan Redskins entry in the National Basketball League.

Swedes' owner C.M. (Ole) Olson fielded the New York Harlemites in 1934, featuring Don (Deacon) Goins, Teddy (Porkchops) Brime, Pot Cannon and Les Pearson ... This was in response to the Harlem Globe Trotters of Abe Saperstein, a team which by that time had begun to seriously cut into the Swedes' domination of lucrative western basketball exhibition dates ... The negro team was shortlived, little more than a season, and did not gain much favor with promoters ... Olson wound up using them, primarily, as a traveling foe for his Swedes.

Great Falls MT: February 2, 1935
It is reported here that C.M. Olson, owner and manager of Olson’s Terrible Swedes and a new traveling negro team, the Harlemites, says he has canceled a scheduled Tuesday night, Feb. 5, game here against the Great Falls Great Northerns … “Olson said his contract called for his Harlemites to be the first negro club to play in Great Falls. When he arrived here he discovered that both Pullins’ Globe Trotters and Saperstein’s original Harlem Globe Trotters had appeared here.” … The Harlemites played before nearly 2,000 fans at the Anaconda winter carnival; they also had an “overflow” house at Crow Agency during a recent tour of southern Montana … Olson reports that not a single game has been lost in Montana and Wyoming (as of January 30, 1935) … A series of games with the Swedes and southern Montana indy squads are to keep them busy until February 12, “when they hit for Dakota country.”

San Diego CA: February 1, 1936
(Montezuma Gym) … Olson’s Terrible Swedes vs San Diego State … Swedes claim 1,700 wins over 15 years … former HOD player Ivan Buchanan in brilliant red, white and blue togs ... six footer, smallest man on squad … “he also has been called the most adept ball handler in America.” Big George Campbell, 6-8 and Sew Leeka, former Minneapolis Oiler All-American … George Pettigrew, long-shot expert … Wilbur Surface, newcomer from Oklahoma … Big Boy Stoelting, 6-10 … 31-29 victory over University of Texas (“last week”) was 64th win in 69 starts

When Olson withdrew from the men's field, a copycat team of Terrible Swedes, briefly, invaded the field ... Ironically, toward the end of their only season, they played a series of games with a copycat Harlem Globe Trotter team -- the infamous "Famous" Harlem Globe Trotters of the doggedly persistent Iowa promoter, Bobby Grund ... Still later, remnants of Olson's "original" Swedes tried the road, with middling success, until World War II ended the bulk of barnstorming.

Elyria OH: December 1, 1937
(HS Gym) … Worthington Dry Cleaners 39, Olson’s Terrible Swedes 34 … visitors are Pete Pettigrew (“the Adonis of basketball”), Don Neff, Tony Wapp, John Fraser, Bob Borum & Clyde Rubie … they claim over 2,000 wins in 18 years, including victories over the Harlem Globe Trotters, House of David and Harlemites and that 1.5 million have watched them in action … Swedes said to be from Kansas City MO

Lynden WA: March 4, 1938
(HS Gym) … (ersatz) “Harlem Globe Trotters” 40, Olson’s Terrible Swedes 35 (Anderson 3, Johnson 18, Armstrong 2, D. Dennis 10, T. Dennis 7) (Borem 8, Neff 9, Wapp 6, Frasier 11, White 1) … appearance of the latter team, Lynden Tribune reports, “will mark the first time in a number of years that a colored team has been seen in action on the local floor. Advertised as the world’s colored champions, the famous Globe Trotters come from Harlem, New York.” … Killer Johnson, “renowned as the world’s greatest colored showman,” is a featured player of the Trotters. Advance publicity says Swedes beat Globe Trotters, 37-36, at Shawnee OK February 3 … Swedes claim to have won more than 2,000 games “and for the last eighteen years have held the title of the world’s traveling champions.” … Tony Wapp, 6-5, 250 lbs., is a featured player of what may well be an ersatz Swede squad, too

Ogden UT: February 24, 1939
(HS Gym) … Terrible Swedes 47, Ogden Independents 40 (Vetter 15, French 8, Campbell 11, Surface 6, Holland 7) … George Campbell and Wilbur Surface begin another chapter in Terrible Swedes’ history, this time without founder C.M. (Ole) Olson

Deming NM: February 16, 1940 (Friday)
Olson’s Terrible Swedes vs Deming Rexalls … George Campbell, said to be in his 12th season, still with the club, although founder C.M. Olson “retired five years ago” … Wiggles Surface in fifth year, ex House of David player Bob Olson along, with Jumping Joe Satovich and Chief Rankin … Swedes claim over 2,000 wins in past 19 season
Dementia Man
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Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:32 pm

Ole Olson and the Swedes

Postby HistoryofWomensBasketball » Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:03 pm

Thank you very much. What you posted about them helps me a lot.

I found it interesting that Wilbur Surface continued with the Swedes during the early years of the All American Red Heads.

Joe Statovich worked with the farm team of the Red Heads, the Ozark Hillbillies.

Question for you. Are you located in the northwest of the country. We may have been in contact before with my work on womens barnstorming teams.

Ole was a showman. I heard that when he played baseball, one time he was fined 15.00 by an umpire and couldn't come back until he paid it.

The next game he came up to the plate and emptied a bag of 15.00...all in pennies. Then asked for a receipt.

The All American Red Heads lasted until 1936.
John Molina

Preservationist of History of Womens Basketball

Co-Author of upcoming book on the All American Red Heads

2007 inductee CT Womens Basketball HOF
Posts: 199
Joined: Sun Aug 19, 2007 6:49 pm
Location: CT

Postby Dementia Man » Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:41 pm

Yes. I am from the Northwest. And we've corresponded for a number of years. I think. I'm losing my memory, you see, and if I don't have it written down in front of me, I tend to slip into a fog. Cheers ...
Dementia Man
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:32 pm

Postby Dementia Man » Wed Oct 03, 2007 2:30 am

Chicago IL: December 2, 1940
(Savoy Ballroom) … A reorganized Savoy Big Five, directed by Abe Saperstein and led by player-manager Al Johnson, was scheduled to play every Monday night … A Globe Trotter contractee, Johnson was loaned to the Savoy Big Five – but, for reasons unknown, was released later this same week and returned to the Rens to replace Tarzan Cooper, who resigned to work in a governmental defense plant in Philadelphia … Johnson eventually returned to the Trotters, playing with them against the Sphas the following March in Philadelphia … Cooper had played 1,300 games in 11 years with the Rens.

Springfield IL: December 15, 1940
(Armory) … Trotters vs Herb Scheffler’s Central Illinois All-Stars (afternoon) … This probably is the second unit squad, featuring Duke Cumberland and Roosevelt Hudson, that plays also as the Savoy Big Five before going out to the Pacific Northwest in January.

December 25, 1940
(per December 26 letter from Saperstein to Inman Jackson) Detroit 41, Savoy Big Five 38 … “after leading by five points with four minutes to go … Ford out with torn-up knee … Cumberland bothered by ankle … picked up Peyton in Toledo.”

Clintonville WI: January 1, 1941
(HS Gym) … Trotters vs FWD Truckers … Advance billed are Roosevelt Hudson, Charley Young, Duke Cumberland, Bill Ford and Al Tucker … Next night, these guys work as the Savoy Big Five in Chicago

Chicago IL: January 2, 1941 (Thursday)
(Holy Trinity HS) … Savoy Big Five (Duke Cumberland, Bill Ford, Al Tucker, Charley Young, Roosevelt Hudson) vs. Polish National Alliance All-Stars … Savoy beat Chicago Nationals, 36-32, on Dec. 30 at the Savoy Ballroom, to run season record to 25 wins in 27 games … This team, intact, will be out in the west within a week, playing as a second unit of the Harlem Globe Trotters.

Deming NM: January 9, 1941
(Smith School Gym) … Trotters vs Deming Rexalls … Abe Saperstein’s name and story used in advance billing … This suggests that the second unit came west via a southerly route, before heading into the Pacific Northwest later in the month ... But -- advance ballyhoo could be a complete fabrication, too; it was often the case.

Longview WA: January 23, 1941
Trotters 49, Longview All-Stars 34 (latter team included Slim Wintermute, Laddie Gale, Kelso coach and ex-WSC star Lee Sonedeaker, Woodland coach and ex-U of Washington John Fuller) ... This was the Trotters' "first" team: Bernie Price, Babe Pressley, Hilary Brown, Agis Bray and Sonny Boswell ... Coach Inman Jackson and Strong were with the other squad, probably checking on business details -- and also as extras, given the injury situation.

Wenatchee WA: January 23, 1941
(Junior High Gym) … Trotters 54, Knights of Columbus 22 (Hudson 20, Strong DNP bad knee, Inman Jackson played sparingly with cold, Cumberland, Ford, Al Tucker, Young 18)

Anacortes WA: January 24, 1941
(HS Gym) … Trotters vs Anacortes Town Team ... This was likely the first team.

Yakima WA: January 24, 1941
Trotters 65, Amateur Avenue Clothiers 17 (Strong 17) … amid heavy snowfall.

Hoquiam WA: January 25, 1941
Trotters 44, Hoquiam All-Stars 30 (Boswell 20, Strong 6, Price 8, Brown, Pressley, Jackson 0, Agis Bray 8 ) … “At one point, Louis Pressley took the leather melon and dribbled continuously for two minutes 37 seconds while the rest of the Harlem lads lay sprawled on the floor and the Stars tried futilely to grab the ball. Agis Bray pulled the same stunt for 1 minute 46 seconds a little later.” —Grays Harbor Washingtonian

Enumclaw WA: January 25, 1941
(HS Gym, att. 700 SRO) … Trotters 48, Enumclaw Merchants 25 (Hudson 14, Young 14, plus Cumberland, Peyton, Ford & Tucker) ... Tony Peyton's arrival fills out the second squad.

Portland OR: January 26, 1941
(Jefferson High Gym, att. 1,100) … Trotters 53, Signal Oil 50 (Boswell 17, Strong 11, Price 11, Pressley 4, Brown 6, Bray 3, Jackson 1) … “the largest crowd ever to witness a basketball game in the Jeff gym”

Chinook WA: January 26, 1941 (Sunday)
(HS Gym) … Trotters vs Wirkkala Mechanics … Second unit team … Duke Cumberland’s picture used with advance story … adult tickets were 42 cents, students 27 cents and grade school kids 16 cents … Original plan had been to play at Ilwaco in the new high school gym, but it was not available on a Sunday, so the game was held in the Chinook gymnasium behind the school (still standing in 2005) … “It is forecast by authentic sources that Peninsula basket ball fans are in for a real treat …” – Chinook Observer, Jan. 24, 1941 … admission is 42 cents for adults, 27 cents for students and 16 cents for grade-school kids … Trotters’ second unit consists of Duke Cumberland, Bill Ford, Al Tucker, Charley Young, Roosevelt Hudson and Tony Peyton

Burlington WA: January 27, 1941 (Monday)
(HS Gym, att. 798) … Trotters 50, Wilson Brothers Town Team 17 … The attendance figure, said to be all paid, represented the biggest crowd in Burlington history … Another of the “HI, RASTUS!” ads preceded them into town, appearing in the Friday, Jan. 24, 1941 issue of the Burlington Tribune, and including the slogan, “Imitated, but never equalled” … game was a benefit for the high school athletic fund … this would have been the second unit

Forest Grove OR: January 27, 1941 (afternoon)
Trotters 46, Pacific University 30 (Strong 11, plus Boswell, Price, Brown, Pressley, Bray and Jackson) … Trotters led, 26-8, at the half

Salem OR: January 27, 1941 (evening)
Trotters 50, Willamette University 41 (Pressley 18, Boswell 6, Cumberland 6, Price 8, Ford 4, Tucker 8) … Trotters led, 31-18, at intermission … said to be the Trotters’ 55th straight win, without a single loss

Pendleton OR: January 28, 1941
(Junior High Gym, att. 1,080) … Trotters 42, Domestic Laundry 22 (Boswell 14, Strong 10, Bray 6, Price 6, Pressley 4, Jackson 2, Brown 0) … Saperstein to local paper: “Now that we’re world champions, we’re not going to pass up our annual visits to those places where we feel we are at home” … Excerpts from East Oregonian, Jan. 29, 1941: “During the halftime intermission, after a short rest, the Trotters tried some almost impossible basket shots and one or two of them found the rim, to bring applause.” … “Late in the third quarter when Jerry Carney of the Laundrys and one of the Trotters failed to go up together for a jump ball, referee Everett Austin tried it again. Still both failed to leap (they took turns standing on each other’s feet!) and so Austin, deciding something should be done about it, snatched the ball and plunked it through the basket from behind the foul line for a beautiful goal.” … In the fourth quarter “there was a generous display of basketball legerdemain, tricky or funny dribbling, football formations, a bit of baseball – and more fun for all than a barrel of monkeys.”

Klamath Falls OR: January 29, 1941
(Armory) … Trotters 50, House of David 25 (Hudson 32, Young 12) … this is a newly formed “second” unit … Trotters led, 38-9, at the half, with Hudson hitting 12 of 20 from the field … Trotters picked up David pivot Wayne Payton, who had just missed three tip-in attempts, and held him up close to the net, from where – “with an embarrassed look on his face” – he dropped the ball through the net. “In another instance the classy colored cassabaists stood stockstill while an opponent dribbled in for a basket unmolested.”

Within a week, the first unit was making its way back east, through Ogden UT, Casper WY and Davenport IA, while the second unit stayed for more games in the Pacific Northwest, before returning, in mid-February, on a more northerly route, through Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Dementia Man
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Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:32 pm

Postby Dementia Man » Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:03 pm

We will never know, I suspect, what Saperstein had in mind after winning the Chicago "world" title. But he was busily cashing in, inaugurating a training camp in Sheboygan and expanding to two traveling Trotter clubs. Some believe he was eyeing Asian and Latin American tours -- plans dashed, of course, by the full-blown intervention of World War II.

But history tells us that Saperstein never failed to cash in when things were going his way. He parlayed the twin wins over the Minneapolis Lakers into the annual College All-American tours and annual European and South American tours, not to mention two very well received motion pictures about the Globe Trotters. That exposure, in turn, led to annual tours for as many as three and four units and, to cap off the run, he scooped Wilt Chamberlain out of Lawrence KS. When he got mad enough at the NBA for double-dealing him for more than a decade, he even launched an opposition league.

There, alas, his luck ran out -- although it was his model, his three-point play, his run-and-gun style of play, that, in a few years, spawned the ABA and its eventual merger into the NBA.

Abe Saperstein was a curious man in a lot of respects. But when it came to promotional vision and what the people wanted for their sports entertainment dollar, few were ever to get ahead of him.

As for Al Johnson, it's hard to consider him anything but a part-time, almost a hire-by-the-night, sort of Globe Trotter. As you know, there were a lot of guys for hire in that era, guys who didn't want to travel, or couldn't (because of the war), and he fits that category for me.

The American Legion Giles Post No. 87 team was a stepchild of the 8th Regiment club you mentioned. I quote to you from the Appleton WI Daily Crescent of December 21, 1926:

"Giles Post is composed of members of the old Eighth Illinois and a number of the nation’s most famous colored athletes including 'Dick' Hudson, the former Creighton University star who played this season with the Providence, R.I., Steamrollers; Lillard, the Iowa University star; Johnson, All-American guard of Howard University; Brookins, formerly of a Chicago high school and Colgate University who will lead the team as captain, and Ramsey, the University of Southern California star."

Of course, Giles Post morphed into the Savoy Big Five. Then Tommy Brookins and a few teammates split off to form the Harlem Globe Trotters and, not terribly long after that -- with Brookins paying more attention to his musical career than to basketball barnstorming -- the enterprising Mr. Saperstein got his foot firmly in the door.

The rest, as they say, is history.
Dementia Man
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 3:32 pm

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