All American Red Heads Inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

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The All American Red Heads were one of the nation’s first professional women’s teams, barnstorming rural towns across America  — 36 years before Title IX, 60 years before the WNBA and 16 years after women won the right to vote.

The Red Heads played exclusively against men, using the men’s rules, and routinely beat them. They sometimes played 200 games in a year sometimes drawing a crowd of 2,000 in a town of 3,000 people. While the team they were playing would take a break at halftime, the Red Heads usually put on some sort of show, a la the Harlem Globetrotters, for the audience.

All American Red Head player via ZUMAPRESS

Last Friday night in Springfield, Mass., about 65 former players (many with fiery auburn hair) delighted fans once again as they were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. .

The Red Heads entered the Hall as part of a 2012 class headlined by five-time NBA All-Star Reggie Miller, the NBA’s all-time winningest coach Don Nelson, three-time National College Player of the Year Ralph Sampson, and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain. Before this weekend, only two dozen or so women had been inducted into the Hall. The Red Heads, who played until 1986, paved the way for all of them.

Tammy Harrison, daughter of The All American Red Heads coach Orwell Moore (d. 2009) and star player Lorene, said in her acceptance speech: “I'd like to take you back to 1936 America, a time of dust bowls, depression, unease, and all the while basketball, a game [that is] simple in many ways - you need a ball and a hoop. Oh, you need the opportunity to play, of course. During this time, the opportunities to play for women were incredibly limited. It was considered [socially] unacceptable and physically impossible to run up and down the floor, to sweat, and compete. The women’s place was in the home - not on the basketball court. "

Of course, there were exceptions. And The All American Red Heads proved that. The name of the team came from Dayle Olson, the wife of original owner Ollie Olson, who ran a number of beauty salons in the south, and together the couple gave women a future in sports.

And now, a great piece of women's sports history has been acknowledged and preserved.

Congrats to all the new Hall of Famers, as well as the Red Heads’ unofficial historian,  John Molina, whose grandmother was a former player and who championed for the team to have their rightful legacy.



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