Gerry Archibald’s team from Warren became part of the professional National Basketball League
After one season in the Midwest Basketball Conference, Gerry Archibald’s Warren Hyvis Oilers became a charter member of the National Basketball League.
The NBL is one of the two leagues that would combine to form the National Basketball Association.
But that was a decade in the future when the 1937-1938 season got underway.
According to “The National Basketball League: A History,” the last spot in the eastern division went to the Warren squad.
The team faced a serious challenge right off the bat.
“This team was sponsored by the Hyvis Oil Company and was thus called Oilers,” per the text “Can you name that team?” “In 1937-1938, it joined the NBL and some references are made to the team as the Warren Penn Oilers. However, Hyvis Oil had dropped its sponsorship so the team was officially the Warren Penns for 1937-1938 and 1938-1939.”
Where were the games played?
The gym at the then-Beaty Junior High that (supposedly) had a seating capacity of 900.
Similar to the MBC, the NBL was split into two divisions — eastern and western — and consisted primarily of teams from the midwest.
“The 1937-1938 season had 13 teams,” according to the Historical Dictionary of Basketball. “There was no fixed league schedule and teams played between nine and 20 games. Even the rules varied from team to team, with the home team having the final say.”
For example, the home team got to make the choice of whether the game would include four 10 minute quarters or three 15 minute quarters.
“Some games were played,” according to that source, “using the center jump after each successful field goal.”
Many of the teams in the league in the 1937-1938 season were pretty clearly sponsored by large corporations.
Teams included the Akron Firestone Non-Skids, Akron Goodyear Wingfoots, Pittsburgh Pirates, Buffalo Bisons, Warren Penns, Columbus Athletic Supply, Oshkosh All-Stars, Whiting Ciesar All-American, Fort Wayne General Electrics, Indianapolis Kautskys, Richmond King Clothiers, Kankahee Gallagher Trojans and the Dayton Metros.
Probasketballencyclopedia.com claims that the change from the MBC to the NBL was made to make the transition from an “amateur” league to a “professional circuit.
“The National League reflected a newer trend to well-financed teams run by large national companies.”
Suffice it to say Warren was not one of those teams.
“The NBL players, particularly on the company teams, were usually college-trained and played exclusively for one team.”
We’ll take a look at that 1937-1938 season and the players that donned the Penns uniform tomorrow.
This is the third in a series of articles about ties to professional basketball in Warren.