Cleveland Pipers

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Cleveland Pipers
Cleveland Pipers logo
Leagues NIBL 1959-1961
ABL 1961-1962
Founded 1950s
Folded 1962
Arena Cleveland Arena
Team colors Red, White & Blue
              

The Cleveland Pipers was an American industrial basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1950s and early 1960s. The Pipers are most known for having played in the short-lived American Basketball League from 1961–62, arguably as that brief pro league's pivotal franchise. General Manager, Mike Cleary hired John McLendon, the first African American head coach in professional basketball, to lead the squad. Playing under coach John McLendon, and later coach Bill Sharman, the team won the league's 1961-62 championship, the only title in the league's short history.

Team owner George Steinbrenner got his start in professional sports ownership with the Pipers, which he bought from plumbing business owner Ed Sweeny to enter into the new ABL. The team's precarious financial situation was such that its home games took place in eight different arenas and gyms. These ranged from the team's primary home at either Cleveland Public Hall or the Cleveland Arena to high school facilities in Ashtabula, Lorain and Sandusky, and as far south as Columbus.

McClendon was able to convince a former college player he had coached, Dick Barnett, to jump from the NBA's Syracuse Nationals to the Pipers. Then, after the team's first season, Steinbrenner signed Ohio State University All-American Jerry Lucas. In the latter case, the signing proved to be wishful thinking when Steinbrenner folded the team just months later.

Even early on, Steinbrenner could be meddlesome and irrepressible. In a game against the Hawaii Chiefs, George Steinbrenner sold player Grady McCollum to the Chiefs at halftime.[1]

NBA petition[edit]

After Steinbrenner unsuccessfully petitioned to get the National Basketball Association to accept his team the following year, the Pipers disbanded. After the ABL folded, Steinbrenner had $125,000 in debts and personal losses of two million dollars.[2]

Jerry Lucas[edit]

In the spring of 1962, Cleveland Pipers owner George Steinbrenner signed Jerry Lucas to a player-management contract worth forty thousand dollars.[3] With the Lucas signing, Steinbrenner had a secret deal with NBA commissioner Maurice Podoloff.

According to Bill Madden's Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, Steinbrenner made plans in 1963 to acquire the Kansas City Steers, from the recently failed ABL, as part of an application to bring the Cleveland Pipers into the NBA, and a schedule had, supposedly, been printed for the 1963-64 NBA season with the Pipers playing the New York Knicks in the first game.[3] Steinbrenner and partner George McKean fell behind in payments to the NBA and the deal was cancelled.

Players[edit]

Lucas did not play in any ABL games. Pipers players include the following:

Year-by-year[edit]

Year League Reg. Season Playoffs
1961/62 ABL 1st, Eastern Champion

Game log[edit]

FIRST HALF

November[edit]

Record: 10-5 ; Home: 5-1 ; Road: 4-4; Neutral: 1-1

# Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score Record
1 November 5 A Pittsburgh Rens L 82-87 0-1
2 November 6 A Kansas City Steers W 110-106 1-1
3 November 8 A Kansas City Steers L 100-101 1-2
4 November 9 A San Francisco Saints W 103-100 2-2
5 November 10 A San Francisco Saints W 97-88 3-2
6 November 13 A Los Angeles Jets L 99-108 3-3
7 November 14 A Los Angeles Jets L 90-106 3-4
8 November 17 A Pittsburgh Rens W 111-94 4-4
9 November 18 N vs. Pittsburgh Rens W 88-87 5-4 at Washington, D.C.
10 November 21 H Hawaii Chiefs W 91-74 6-4
11 November 22 H Hawaii Chiefs W 97-96 7-4
12 November 25 H Pittsburgh Rens L 91-97 7-5
13 November 26 H Pittsburgh Rens W 137-94 8-5
14 November 28 H Kansas City Steers W 99-97 9-5
15 November 30 H Kansas City Steers W 1109-102 10-5

December[edit]

Record: 9-12 ; Home: 5-4 ; Road: 3-5 ; Neutral: 1-3

# Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score Record
16 December 1 H vs. Los Angeles Jets W 113-92 11-5 at Columbus, OH
17 December 2 H Los Angeles Jets L 109-116 11-6
18 December 5 N vs. Chicago Majors L 97-110 11-7 at Milwaukee, WI
19 December 6 A Chicago Majors L 93-101 11-8
20 December 7 N vs. Chicago Majors W 107-88 12-8 at Pittsburgh, PA
21 December 9 H Pittsburgh Rens L 113-134 12-9
22 December 10 A Pittsburgh Rens W 107-102 13-9
23 December 13 H Chicago Majors W 117-95 14-9
24 December 14 N vs. Kansas City Steers L 104-112 14-10 at Pittsburgh, PA
25 December 15 A Washington Tapers L 100-108 14-11
26 December 16 A Washington Tapers W 99-84 15-11
27 December 17 N vs. Washington Tapers L 88-90 15-12 at Pittsburgh, PA
28 December 19 A Chicago Majors W 99-94 16-12 at Rockford, IL
29 December 20 A Chicago Majors L 94-98 16-13
30 December 21 H Chicago Majors L 112-113 16-14
31 December 23 H Pittsburgh Rens W 132-117 17-14
32 December 25 H Pittsburgh Rens L 106-108 17-15
33 December 26 A Washington Tapers L 108-109 17-16
34 December 28 A Washington Tapers L 106-123 17-17
35 December 29 H Washington Tapers W 124-98 18-17
36 December 30 H Washington Tapers W 118-104 19-17

January[edit]

Record: 7-8 ; Home: 4-2 ; Road: 2-5 ; Neutral: 1-1

# Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score Record
37 January 1 H Chicago Majors W 117-99 20-17 at Akron, OH
38 January 3 H Chicago Majors W 114-104 21-17
39 January 6 H San Francisco Saints L 93-103 21-18
40 January 7 H San Francisco Saints W 140-107 22-18 at Columbus, OH
41 January 9 H New York Tapers W 141-124 23-18 at Lorain, OH
42 January 10 N vs. Kansas City Steers W 115-110 (OT) 24-18 at Chicago, IL

ABL FIRST HALF PLAYOFFS

Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score
January 12 A Kansas City Steers L 93-106
January 13 H vs. Kansas City Steers W 98-87
January 14 A Kansas City Steers L 120-104

SECOND HALF

# Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score Record
43 January 15 A Piitsburgh Rens W 110-108 1-0
44 January 16 N vs. Kansas City Steers L 110-118 1-1 at Commack, NY
45 January 17 H Pittsburgh Rens L 97-107 1-2
46 January 20 A Kansas City Steers L 114-115 1-3
47 January 21 A Kansas City Steers L 120-132 1-4
48 January 23 A Hawaii Chiefs L 100-106 1-5
49 January 25 A Hawaii Chiefs W 114-113 2-5
50 January 26 A Hawaii Chiefs L 114-121 2-6
51 January 27 A Hawaii Chiefs L 94-106 2-7

February[edit]

Record: 9-6 ; Home: 5-3 ; Road: 1-3 ; Neutral: 3-0

# Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score Record
52 February 3 H Chicago Majors W 120-114 3-7
53 February 4 H New York Tapers L 109-112 3-8
54 February 6 H San Francisco Saints L 123-126 3-9 at Sandusky, OH
55 February 7 H San Francisco Saints W 144-115 4-9
56 February 8 N vs. San Francisco Saints W 129-118 5-9 at Pittsburgh, PA
57 February 10 H Pittsburgh Rens W 125-114 6-9
58 February 11 A Pittsburgh Rens W 105-103 7-9
59 February 12 H Hawaii Chiefs L 136-137 (2 OT) 7-10
60 February 14 N vs. Hawaii Chiefs W 115-103 8-10 at New Castle, PA
61 February 15 N vs. Hawaii Chiefs W 112-108 9-10 at Pittsburgh, PA
62 February 17 A Chicago Majors L 106-115 9-11
63 February 23 H New York Tapers W 138-121 10-11
64 February 25 H Kansas City Steers W 111-109 11-11
65 February 27 A New York Tapers L 90-101 11-12
66 February 28 A New York Tapers L 86-102 11-13

March[edit]

Record: 10-5 ; Home: 8-0 ; Road: 1-4 ; Neutral: 1-1

# Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score Record
67 March 3 A Chicago Majors L 111-115 11-14
68 March 5 H Kansas City Steers W 104-92 12-14 at Canton, OH
69 March 7 A San Francisco Saints L 101-103 12-15
70 March 8 A San Francisco Saints W 100-98 13-15
71 March 9 A San Francisco Saints L 104-106 (OT) 13-16
72 March 13 H Chicago Majors W 110-101 14-16 at Ashtabula, OH
73 March 14 H Chicago Majors W 124-122 15-16
74 March 15 H Kansas City Steers W 116-101 16-16
75 March 17 H Hawaii Chiefs W 107-100 17-16
76 March 18 H Chicago Majors W 111-102 18-16
77 March 21 H Pittsburgh Rens W 124-102 19-16
78 March 22 N vs. New York Tapers L 98-100 19-17 at Pittsburgh, PA
79 March 23 A Pittsburgh Rens L 124-135 19-18
80 March 24 H Pittsburgh Rens W 136-126 20-18
81 March 25 N vs. Pittsburgh Rens W 114-106 21-18 at Rochester, NY

ABL QUARTERFINALS

Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score
March 30 H San Francisco Saints W 124-102
March 31 N vs. New York Tapers W 98-100 at Kansas City, MO

ABL FINALS

Date H/A/N Opponent W/L Score
April 1 A Kansas City Steers L 101-126
April 3 A Kansas City Steers L 118-82
April 5 H Kansas City Steers W 130-114
April 7 H Kansas City Steers W 100-98
April 9 A Kansas City Steers W 106-102

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, p.39, Bill Madden, Harper Collins Publishing, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-169031-0
  2. ^ Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, p.43, Bill Madden, Harper Collins Publishing, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-169031-0
  3. ^ a b Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, p.42, Bill Madden, Harper Collins Publishing, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-169031-0

External links[edit]