Sunday, September 11, 2011

Washington Generals Top Players: Harvey Babetch

Harvey Babetch (left) with the Texas Cowboys.
For most young basketball players, being offered a spot on an NBA team is something you simply can't walk away from. But Harvey Babetch chose a different path.

Intially playing basketball in high school, Babetch played for Chicago's Von Steuben High School begining in 1951 when he was named All-City. During his time playing for Von Steuben Harvey achieved an impressive list of accomplishments.

They included the second all-time record in Illinois state for most points in a single half with 53, as well as in a quarter with 35. He also scored a single game high of 87 points. And keep in mind this is before the existence of 3-point shots.

After graduating high school, Babetch attended Bradley University in 1952. Harvey scored more than 1,500 points during his time at Bradley. In his freshman year he upset the then powerhouse St. Lois scoring a winning shot with a late basket. Allowing the team to win 61-60 on St. Lois own court.

In his Junior year at Bradley, Harvey helped the Braves reach the NCAA finals, despite being a long shot. Although they did lose the title to LaSalle 92-76.

He was also a member of the U.S. basketball team in the 1953 Maccabi Games in Tel Aviv where he won a Gold Medal.

Babetch graduated from Bradley in 1955 and was selected in the fifth round by the Milwaukee Hawks, a team that over the years hosted such Washington Generals as Sam Pellom, Charlie Criss, John O'Boyle, and Jerry Fowler. With such an offer on the table most would have expected Harvey Babetch to accept the offer with open arms. But he made a different decision.

Abe Saperstien, the then owner of the Globetrotters, approached Babetch with another offer. It ended up being one he couldn't refuse.

Saperstien offered Babetch a three year contract with the Washington Generals. While they couldn't offer the prestige or pay of the Hawks, they could offer him a chance to tour the world alongside a team that at the time was more popular than the NBA. A team that could offer him experiences and adventures he never would have dreamed of.

Harvey was sold and made a surprising decision, turning down the Hawks and joining up with the Washington Generals from 1956-1958. He was best known during his time for being a member of the Texas Cowboys, a persona created by Saperstein that toured Europe taking on the Globetrotters, and losing to them, as well as playing for the better known persona of the Washington Generals.

During his time Babetch performed in arena's all over the world. Playing games with audiences that dwarfed any crowd he would have performed for in the NBA. He also played against the Globetrotters during the year future NBA great Wilt Chamberlain was among the member of the Trotters.

Babatch has become inducted into several halls of fame since begining his career, including the Chicago Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Bradley University, the Chicago Public League, Von Steuben, Illinois State, and the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame.

After leaving the Generals Babetch worked at the families auto scrap parts business, before retiring just over 20 years ago. He currently lives in Highland Park with his wife Lynn.

Babetch made a choice few would make, and gave up a career in the NBA because he was the Washington Generals as something more than a team that never wins. He saw them as a chance to see the world and live a life he never could have had in the NBA.

For that, Harvey Babetch is most definitley a Washington General worth mention as a "Top Player".


Jewish Basketball Hall of Fame - Harvey Babetch

Babetch Is Truly A Living Legend

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