The Time Dad Locked Down Elgin Baylor

That’s the place my father went shoulder-to-shoulder with Baylor.

Mel Streeter was a expertise in his personal proper then. He had performed on the College of Oregon within the early 1950s, when he was the one Black participant on his groups. (Think about that as you watch the Geese, bursting with Black expertise, within the Candy Sixteen of the boys’s event.) After shifting with my mother to Seattle, he thrived within the fast-paced, wide-open fashion favored in Seattle’s highly effective A.A.U. league, the place video games had been performed in entrance of packed crowds and had been usually featured prominently within the sports activities pages.

Baylor was part of that blend. He suited up for a powerhouse A.A.U. staff: Westside Ford.

I want now that I had requested my father extra about his one-and-only sport in opposition to Baylor, extra about that league and people occasions. However dad died 15 years in the past. As shut as we had been, a few of his historical past will at all times be minimize off from me. I don’t know what staff he was on when he performed in opposition to Baylor. I don’t know if it was an enormous sport with excessive stakes — just like the battles that helped resolve who would head off to the A.A.U. nationwide championship.

Fortunately, I’ve a agency recollection of the look on my father’s face as he spoke of how, in a head-to-head matchup between two tall, lithe and highly effective forwards, he held Baylor to 2 first-half factors. Oh, and pop by no means let any of his 4 sons neglect that whereas he was holding down Baylor, he was lighting up the scoreboard. Even earlier than my older brother Jon knew I used to be penning this column, the second he heard about Baylor’s loss of life he despatched me a textual content along with his personal recollections of our household’s well-told story: “Dad scored 11 within the first half!”

However how did the sport finish?

Every time he got here to the story’s backstretch, my dad would at all times smile and convey me shut, letting me know that this brief fable was not truly about him.

Because it turned out, angered at being proven up, Baylor got here out within the second half decided to show Mel Streeter a lesson. As dad instructed it, all the again half of the sport was primarily a blur as Baylor whipped previous my father for layups or arcing, orbital leap pictures. Baylor didn’t simply flip the tables: He made identified that he was merely a special type of cat. He shut down dad with lockdown protection, and torched dad for 24 factors.

Every time my father instructed this story, which was often whereas we shot hoops on the basket that hung over our previous storage, he by no means ended it sounding defeated. His smile widened and his face lit up as regarded straight at me and spoke of Baylor with awe. “There was nothing I might do,” dad would say. “He was simply an excessive amount of.”

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