As the month of November approaches, it seems like it is time to start thinking of basketball. This next series of posts will be focused on the “wonder five” teams of Wabash. Let’s start with the first team ever labelled a wonder five. The basketball men of 1907-08 had a 24-0 season record.

Front row: Ralph Wicks, Will Sprow, L.J.C. “Brandy Freeman, William H. “Abe” Diddell. Back Row: Charley Ball, Harter “Deac” Walter, Paul “Perry” Stump, Walter “Gypper” Gipe and Coach Ralph Jones.

This team was one of four coached by Jones in Crawfordsville, the other three were the Crawfordsville High School team, the local business college team and the YMCA team. A very busy man, Jones also coached football – he eventually coached the Chicago Bears in the 1930’s.

Back to the Wabash men on this team, in the Wabash Magazine of March 1908 we read, “Their record for four years, is unsurpassed by that of any team in the country. Sprow, Wicks, Freeman and Diddel have played together for four years, while Gipe and Walter have played on the same squad for three. In four years sixty-six games were won and three lost. Of the three lost, one Purdue won by a one-point margin at Lafayette and the other two were taken by the local high school by three point margins.”

As a result of their winning ways, when the Indianapolis News of that year chose an all-state team, instead of choosing men from various schools as had been the custom, the paper noted, “This year Wabash has accomplished a feat that no other Indiana college has ever accomplished, namely landing five players on the All-State team.”

Among the players on this team is Abe Diddell who carved another legacy in sports following Wabash, although not in basketball. Abe will be a fitting subject for his own post about his career in golf.

I should not close without noting that your eyes are not deceiving you, perched on the basketball in the team picture is a small bear, here is a close up of Teddy.  This picture was made at the height of the teddy bear craze in America.

As the first of the wonder five teams at Wabash, this team with their 24-0 record was a tough act to follow. Next time I will share more information about the 1917 team and I hope you have enjoyed this look at the first of the Wonder Fives.


Beth Swift