Southeast inducts new class into Hall

Sunday, October 9, 2005

The 1960-61 basketball team and four individuals were honored on Saturday.

Southeast Missouri State's 1960-61 basketball team finished second in the NCAA College Division Tournament in Evansville, Ind. -- and it had plenty of support along the way.

Nearly 2,000 fans accompanied the squad to Evansville, including a group that dribbled a basketball from Cape Girardeau to the tournament site.

"It was really exciting. Everybody was so supportive," said Advance native Carl Ritter, an All-American on that team who still ranks as Southeast's career scoring leader for men's basketball.

The 1960-61 Southeast squad was again able to bask in the glory of its accomplishment Saturday, becoming the seventh team inducted into Southeast's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Four individuals, ranging in participation from the 1900s to the 1980s, were also honored during Saturday's reception and induction ceremony at the Show Me Center, bringing the number of individual members to 41 since the Hall of Fame was started in 2002.

Individuals inducted were Frank Hawkins, who played football at the university from 1903 to 1907; Don Pritchard, a three-sport athlete from 1931 to 1934; Ray Rippelmeyer, a basketball player from 1953 to 1955; and Ted Banker, a football player from 1979 to 1982.

Hawkins and Pritchard were honored posthumously, while Banker was unable to attend the ceremony but gave a videotaped message.

The 1960-61 basketball team won the MIAA championship and the NCAA Southwestern Regional at Houck Field House, beating Colorado College 99-68 and Southern Illinois 87-84.

At the national tournament in Evansville, Southeast defeated Chicago University 67-41 and South Dakota 81-69 before dropping a 42-38 decision to Wittenburg to finish 25-3.

"After our previous year, I think we were a little above .500, I don't think anybody expected what happened," said Bill Giessing, No. 3 on Southeast's career scoring list and also an All-American. "Our team had great chemistry. You hear that word a lot, but I think it was really true."

In addition to Ritter and Giessing, other team members attending Saturday's festivities were Paul Blain, Ron Gray, Bill Jordan, Perry Kegley, Bob Miller and Vivan Reed. The late Charles Parsley was head coach, with the late Joe Uhls assisting.

Ritter, Giessing and Uhls previously were inducted into the Hall of Fame as individuals.

"It's good to come back and see some of the guys you played with," Ritter said. "I see some of them, but others I haven't seen in a while."

Two members among a group of 15 that earned national attention by dribbling a basketball from Cape Girardeau to Evansville were also in attendance.

The 15 Southeast students took turns dribbling the ball over the course of about 22 hours. Each student dribbled about a mile at a time, while the ones not dribbling rode in cars. The ball is still in the trophy case at Houck Field House.

"Everybody was so excited about that team," said Jim Piatchek, who attended Saturday along with Roger Taylor. "It was about 180 miles. We left at 8 a.m. and got there at about dawn the next day. Everybody dribbled about 10 or 15 miles.

"We had about 2,200 students back then, and about 2,000 people were at the tournament. That would be like about 10,000 going to the game today. We felt like we were part of the team."

Hawkins was labeled "the greatest football player in Southeast history" by his coach, Ferdinand Corleaux, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year. Hawkins was the team captain in 1907 when Southeast beat Mississippi 12-6, and he carried the ball on every play in one touchdown drive in that game.

Pritchard was a four-year letterman in football, basketball and tennis. He was a three-time first-team all-conference selection in football from 1932 to 1934 and was captain of the team in 1934. He was a standout receiver and punter.

Rippelmeyer played basketball for two seasons at Southeast in the 1950s while also playing minor league baseball. He was a two-time all-conference selection and twice led the team in scoring. He set a single-game record of 30 points and set single-season scoring records in both his junior and senior seasons, while earning honorable mention NAIA All-American honors in 1955.

Rippelmeyer was drafted by the New York Knicks but instead fulfilled his commitment to the Army. After a two-year stint, he played on two Pacific Coast League championship teams and later became a pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies and worked with Steve Carlton.

"I feel humbled to be picked," said Rippelmeyer, who has spent over 50 years in baseball and currently is an advisor to the minor league director for the New York Mets. "SEMO State is a well kept secret. I loved it here. I was treated great."

As an added bonus for Rippelmeyer, the other four starters from Southeast's 1954-55 basketball team also attended Saturday.

"We play golf together, we go boat riding, cook steaks," he said.

Banker, a four-year letterman in football, won all-MIAA honors and was team captain in 1981 and 1982, while also earning team MVP honors in 1982.

He played from 1983 to 1990 in the National Football League, spending six years with the New York Jets and two with the Cleveland Browns. He played in the playoffs in 1985, 1986 and 1989. While playing with Browns in the AFC Championship game in 1989, he suffered a knee injury that ended his career.

Banker is the only player in NFL history to play all five offensive line positions in the same season.

"It's a great honor," Banker said in his videotaped message. "I loved playing at SEMO for four years. It was a great time."

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