HISTORY OF THE WESTERN BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION 1974-75
Contributed by Al Kirk
WBA MEMBERSHIP CHRONOLOGY 1974-75
1974-75 In- Martinez Muirs 1974-75 [charter franchise] Sacramento Prospectors 1974-75 [charter franchise] San Jose Winchesters 1974-75 [charter franchise] San Mateo Suns 1974-75 [charter franchise] Stockton Golden Arches 1974-75 [charter franchise] Tri-Valley Warriors 1974-75 [charter franchise]
WBA FRANCHISES BY SEASON 1978-79
MAR - Martinez Muirs [Martinez, CA] SAC - Sacramento Prospectors [Sacramento, CA] SJW - San Jose Winchesters [San Jose, CA, Santa Clara, CA] SMS - San Mateo Suns [San Mateo, CA] STO - Stockton Golden Arches [Stockton, CA and Tracy, CA] TVW - Tri-Valley Warriors [Livermore, CA and Plesanton, CA]
1974-75 - MAR SAC SJW SMS STO TVW
WBA YEARLY STANDINGS 1974-75
1974-75 WBA W L Pct. GB Stockton Golden Arches 18 19 .642 .. Tri-Valley Warriors* 15 9 .625 1.5.5 Sacramento Prospectors 14 13 .518 3.5 San Jose Winchesters 13 15 .464 5.5 Martinez Muirs 8 19 .320 9.5 San Mateo Suns** .. .. .... ..
*Tri-Valley represented Livermore, CA and Plesanton, CA **missing two games, yet to verify their record (10-15 or 11-16) through other cities newspapers
Stockton forfeits to San Jose (Stockton protests, as the WBA league office fails to release League financial statements that shows expenditures. Stockton management questioned where and how team entry fees and other investments were used.)
Game 1 at Sacramento - Sacramento 96, Tri-Valley 98 Game 2 at Sacramento - Sacramento 107, Tri-Valley 101 Sacramento and Tri-Valley tied at 1 game a piece in best of three (Series not finished due to Tri-Valley having played the first two games in Sacramento were unable to agree on terms where the deciding game should be played.)
The Western Basketball Association was born as a regional AAU League featuring several teams from Sacramento and the Bay Area in the early 70's. Sacramento's Mel Rapton Pontiac, Martinez Don's, and Oakland were powerhouses in this four year old AAU league had.
In 1974 the talent level in the league had grown to the point that teams were recruiting players from back east for semi-pro pay. The team owners voted to reorganize and become a full-fledged professional league during the summer of 1974. Immediately several teams contacted and met with General Managers of the five NBA Western Division teams in Oakland about becoming farm teams to each of the clubs.
At best all that became of these meetings were agreements to allow players cut from fall training camps to be signed by WBA teams. Several Golden State Warriors and a couple of other players from other western NBA teams played in the league.
Team owners selected Bill Helbush of San Jose as the acting Commissioner and George Putnam as President of league day to day operations. Putnam then drew up a 30 game schedule running from November through March for the 1974-75 season. Each team put up a $3,400 entry fee for league administrations and officials. Each team negotiated individually for local High Schools or small civic centers for games.
Average pay for players was to be $25-$50 dollars per game, with exceptional players receiving more than that. No salary limit was imposed of team General Managers. Average ticket prices were from $2 to $3.50 for all games. A couple of the teams had Radio broadcast all games home and away. No three-point line or shot was used.
As the season began several games quickly came under protest as the officials chosen by the league were not sure of professional rules. Also, Martinez with crowds over a 1,000 for home games, lost their home floor at Alahambra High to fire and this resulted in a couple of games to be scratched from the schedule. The Muirs in turn played the remainder of the schedule on the road. Stockton rolled to the regular season WBA title behind a potent offense featuring Errecart, Fox, Stricker, and Foley . No official league statistics have been compiled yet; according to newspaper accounts Dave Lee, Johnny Skinner and Frank Kendricks were among the leading scorers at the end of the season no final numbers have been found. WBA leading rebounders reported were Larry Webber, Sacramento, and Bob Presley of Martinez tied in rebounding with 12.8 rebounds a game.
Near the end of the regular season WBA General Managers in Stockton and Sacramento started to question the Commissioner about putting out extra money for other league teams to finish the season. In fact Tom Madden, GM at Stockton, pulled the Golden Arches out of the league at the end of the season forfeiting post season playoffs saying, "WBA officials haven't been honest with us. They have been using our money and not collecting from some of the rest of teams." Also, teams complained of unpaid officials and unpaid insurance and asked for financial statements to be produced by league Presidents George Putnam to verify administrative finances.
Sacramento owners reported a $5,000-$10,000 loss for the season, and even contacted the NBA for financial help if a second season was to be played. The plan called for each WBA team to receive $7,500 from the NBA for player development while allowing individual NBA teams to place their 13th and 14th player on their rosters on WBA teams.
Overall, attendance actually increased in Sacramento from 300 a game to over 800 fans a game at season end. Martinez and Stockton also drew well at the gate all season long. At this date there is no detailed record found from the NBA's June meeting which as to rule on helping the WBA (along with the EBA) in providing financial assistance for minor league teams.
Meanwhile Tri-Valley was unable to find a home court for the playoffs and initially agreed to play all three games if necessary in Sacramento. In the first game the Warriors knocked off the Prospectors with former Prospector Dennis Dickens tossing in a 46 footer from near mid court at the buzzer to pull out a 98-96 win. In Game two the Prospectors came from behind led by Frank Kendricks' 27 points for a 107-101 win to even the series. However game three was not played as Commissioner Helbush could not get Tri-Valley to agree to playing a deciding third game in Sacramento. "Tri-Valley has refused to play Saturday's finale against the Prospectors at Memorial Auditorium because of poor officiating. We either Play on a neutral court or we don't play at all," commented Tri-Valley team officials. This further incensed Stockton management as Tom Madden claimed, " There's just a total lack of credibility with the WBA right now. The league is going deeper and deeper into debt and we don't feel like pumping any money into it." Also, "When you've paid your money but can't see how it's spent you begin to have doubts," as WBA officials Helbush and Putnam still hadn't produce financial statements. The remainder (if any) of the playoffs is yet to be determined as further research is needed to see if the season was finished or a official champion recognized.All the team owners concluded reorganization was needed immediately if a second season was to be considered, including even starting another league. As of now, no record of a new WBA for the '75-'76 has been found.
WBA ROSTERS AND TEAM INFORMATION
STOCKTON GOLDEN ARCHES (18-10) G.M./Pres.: Pete Otteson and Tom Madden Coach: Bill Stricker (Pacific) Arena: Stagg H.S., Stockton, CA. Average attendance 600-800. Also played some games in Tracy, CA.
Name Hgt. College Known Pro Experience John Errecart 6-3 Pacific (CA) GSW - NBA (training camp) Pat Foley 6-6 Pacific (CA) Dave Fox Pacific (CA) Bill Stricker 6-9 Pacific (CA) POR - NBA Louie Small Nevada-Las Vegas Richard Stallworth St. Louis U. George White 6-3 Jim McCargo 6-7 Pacific (CA) Bucky Snyder Pacific (CA) Bob Thomason 6-2 Pacific (CA) Dave Gainza San Jose St. (CA) Salch Gary Dean James Smith 6-4
TRI VALLEY WARRIORS (15-9) G.M./Pres.: Coach: John Phillips (Drake) Arena: Plesanton H.S., Plesanton, CA. Alameda Fairgrounds, Livermore, CA.
Name Hgt. College Known Pro Experience Willie Wise 6-6 Drake UTS - ABA, GSW - NBA Larry Gray 6-8 Long Beach St. SEA - NBA Don Griffin Stanford Girod Chatman Paul Loveday 6-10 California Duane Reed Portland St. John Burks 6-7 San Francisco GSW - NBA (training camp) Mark Jamieson 6-1 Dennis Dickens 6-6 PHX - NBA (training camp) Thrasher Woodford Brooks Ray
SACRAMENTO PROSPECTORS (PROS) (14-13) G.M./Pres: Rick Worsley, Hal Wehmerer Coach: Fred Lewis (Syracuse) Arena: Memorial Auditorium (4,000), Sacramento, CA. Average attendance per game around 490.
Name Hgt. College Known Pro Experience Frank Kendrick 6-6 Purdue GSW - NBA Maurice Woodward 6-3 Issac Fontaine 6-3 Cal-Poly Lloyd Behrens 6-6 Sacramento St. Larry Webber 6-7 Oregon State U. Mike LaRoche 6-4 Cal-Poly Gordy Newton 6-6 Sacramento St. John Mulligan 6-10 New Mexico Seymour Reed 6-8 Bradley LAL - NBA (training camp) Byron Jones Los Angeles St. Dennis Dickens 6-8 Azuza Pacific Steve Smith 6-9 Loyola (CA) GSW - NBA (training camp) George Putnam 6-0 Santa Clara Norman Knowles Donovan Hunter 6-9 Monmouth College BOS - NBA (training camp) Kelley Bill Bridges 6-6 Kansas STL/ATL/PHI/LAL/GST - NBA, KCS - ABL (signed - DNP)
SAN JOSE WINCHESTERS (13-15) G.M./Pres.: Pete Newell (San Jose St.) Coach: Pete Newell, along with Player-Coach Bob Scotlan(d) Arena: San Jose City C.C., San Jose, CA. Santa Clara H.S., Santa Clara, CA.
Name Hgt. College Known Pro Experience Bob Scotlan Portland U. Clarence "Tree" Johnson 6-6 California GSW - NBA (training Camp), Martinez - WBA Johnny Skinner 6-1 San Jose St. Frank Mixon Denver U. Herman Brown 6-8 St. Mary's (CA) Leon Beauchman San Jose St. Roy Brown 6-5 St. Mary's (CA) (Indiana - AABA 1977), NABL/CBL in the Midwest) Vince Lombard St. Mary's (CA) Eric Saulney 6-0 San Jose St. David Payne 6-8 Long Beach St (CA) Don Orndorff 6-6 San Jose St. Bob Johnson 6-3 California Dave Lattin 6-7 Texas Western (Ben?) Hill (6-8) (Fresno St.) Sipp Perkins Perry Dave Dockery 6-6 San Jose St.
SAN MATEO SUNS (TBD 10-15 or 11-16) G.M./Pres.: Coach:Russ "Rusty" Critchfield (California) Arena: ??
Name Hgt. College Known Pro Experience Gary Bradford 6-3 San Francisco St. Bob Heaney 6-7 Santa Clara GSW - NBA (training camp) Norman Knowles 6-9 Nevada-Las Vegas Wilbert Miles 6-3 Santa Clara Vance DeVost San Francisco St. Mel Lee Bouton Pandiani Carey Kevin Eagleson 5-10 Santa Clara Roy Rogers Texas David Brent 7-1 Jacksonville Willard Rance
MARTINEZ MUIRS (8-17) G.M./ Pres.: Coach: Arena: Alahambra H.S., Martinez, CA (Fire destroys gym near the end of season, forced to play all road games) Reported attendances for home games average around 1,000.
Name Hgt. College Known Pro Experience Dave Lee 6-7 San Francisco NOR - NBA Harry Brown St. Marys (CA) Mike Stewart 6-10 Santa Clara Stanford Williams Cohrs Louis Wright Sacramento St. Bob Presley 7-0 California Charlie Lowery 6-3 U. Puget Sound MIL - NBA Clarence "Tree" Johnson 6-6 California San Jose - WBA Pete McKinney Pat Douglas Pacific (CA) Correll Robinson Sharrock