Well, one of the best Wichita State basketball players ever has died, Dave Stallworth. He was part of the truly great teams of the early 1960s that I listened to on the radio in the old house when I was about 10, playing basketball with a wadded up sock, shooting it at an imaginary goal above the doorway during those radio games. There is a side story that I learned that did not get into Hallowed Hardwood, so I’ll tell it now.
When researching for Hallowed Hardwood, I did several interviews that bumped up into racial issues, and some events that opened doors. I soon realized I was capturing history.
I went down to Chanute to meet coach Ralph Miller, who was in Hallowed Hardwood and grew up there. He had played for KU, and after some time in the military, came out and coached for Wichita East. He then moved on to Wichita State before going to Iowa, then Oregon State where he retired. It didn’t take long in this interview that I was kicking myself for not having a tape recorder running. About every fourth word was a cussword, and by the stories he told, I realized I was interviewing a legend.
When he told about his recruiting of Dave Stallworth, he told that Dave was brought up to the WSU campus for a recruiting visit. We’re talking about a young black high school player from Dallas, where you could not play basketball in college if you were not white.
They took a long walk along a sidewalk, talking. Suddenly, the coach realized that Dave was lagging about 3 feet behind. “Get up here, kid.” So, he stepped forward. Soon, coach realized he was behind again. “C’mon, kid, keep up.” So, he stepped forward again. Not long after, Dave was again behind about 3 feet. “ C’mon, get up here! What’s wrong with you, kid?” coach said with a stern voice.
“Sir ... where I come from in Texas, a black boy does not walk even with a white man.” Coach said, “Well, you just walk even with me. We’re in Kansas now.”
A little surprising for younger folks who do not remember the “Jim Crow” days. It still kind of stunned me when I heard it.
— Brian Stucky, Goessel