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Ballers: 1920

Ballers: 1920

Washington, D.C., 1920. "Congress Heights Yankees basketball team." Which in a few years would become an industrial squad fielded by the Palace Laundry. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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36 and 5

The record of the Congress Heights Yankees for the 1920-1921 season was 36 wins and 5 losses. They also won the District Championship for the second year in a row by defeating the Aloysius Club Churchmen two games to none in a best of three games series. The previous year the team had been known as the Y.M.C.A. Yankees. This season it also became affiliated with the Congress Heights Athletic Club.

A similar photo to the one seen here was published in the Richmond Times Dispatch of February 18, 1921, and it appears to show the same players but without their sweaters. The club personnel are identified as: Top Row (left to right): Felipa, Goetz, Harvey, and Father Hortscamp; Bottom Row (left to right): Ingley, Shaffer, Catlin, Payne, and Sauber. From looking at other newspaper articles the team appears to have also had at least three other players: Atherton, Heddens, and Hager. Ray Catlin (1899 - 1974) was the team captain, and the manager was Arthur Schaffer, but it is unclear if this is a misspelling of the player named 'Shaffer' in the Richmond article.

Their season opened with a win at home in the brand new Congress Heights Auditorium, against the Linworth Athletic Club on Thanksgiving Day, by a score of 95 to 13. This was the first of at least eight straight victories. In the two title games they played against the Aloysius Club they won by scores of 26 to 21 (at home) and 35 to 28 (at Gonzaga). Overall they averaged 51 points per game, and they held their opponents to an average of 24 points per game.

Note that the game of basketball at the time the photo was taken was not the standardized game that it is today. Even the court size varied, and in the District Championship game against the Aloysius Club at Gonzaga the squareness of this court compared to other basketball courts was specifically mentioned as giving the Yankees a little trouble at the beginning of the game. The court size was often the size of the gym where the game was being played.

After their championship game they played two more games to end the season: a loss to the Jersey Flyers in Williamsport, 33 to 22, and a win at the Naval Club in Indian Head, Maryland, 72 to 20.

The following article from The Sunday Star (Washington, D.C.) of March 27, 1921 recaps their season.

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