Gene Melchiorre

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Gene Melchiorre
Personal information
Born (1927-08-10) August 10, 1927 (age 91)
Highland Park, Illinois
NationalityAmerican
Listed height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Listed weight175 lb (79 kg)
Career information
High schoolHighland Park (Highland Park, Illinois)
CollegeBradley (1947–1951)
NBA draft1951 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Baltimore Bullets
PositionPoint guard
Number23
Career highlights and awards

Eugene "Squeaky" Melchiorre (born August 10, 1927) is a retired American basketball player. He was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets and was the first overall pick in the 1951 NBA Draft. Melchiorre never played an NBA game due to his lifetime ban from the league for point shaving when he was a college player.

Early life[edit]

He was the fifth of six children born in Highland Park, Illinois, to a gardener who moved his family there from Joliet in 1936. Though short in stature and having pigeon toes, Melchiorre excelled in nearly ever sport he tried. He was a starting wingback on the Highland Park football team, a basketball player, a baseball player, a tennis player and, in his later years, a golfer.[1] After joining the Army, Melchiorre joined the basketball team at Fort Sheridan, known as the Ramblers, that won 58 out of 63 games during his two-year tour (1945–47).

College[edit]

After playing in the Army together, Melchiorre and Bill Mann had become close friends and were recruited together by numerous colleges. They decided to attend Bradley University together, with their tuition being covered by the GI Bill.[2]

Melchiorre played guard for Bradley in the 1947-48 to 1950-51 seasons. Standing only 5'8" and weighing 175 lbs, he was famous for his passing abilities and his ability to score. During his tenure, Bradley won 119 games while losing only 22. He participated in both the NIT and NCAA Tournament in 1950, in which Bradley lost to CCNY in the championship game of each tournament.

In 1947-1948, playing for Coach Alfred J. Robertson, Melchiorre was Bradley's 2nd leading scorer as a freshman (9.8 points, 3.7 assists), as the Braves finished 28-3.[3]

As a sophomore, Melchiorre averaged 11.8 points under Coach Forddy Anderson as Bradley finished 27-8[4]

In 1949-1950, Bradley was 32-5, with Melchiorre averaging 11.9 points.

The Braves lost in the Final of the 1950 NCAA Basketball Tournament 71-68 to City College of New York, as Melchiorre led all scorers with 16 points.[5] In the Final, Melchiorre's basket put the Braves up by one with 30 seconds remaining. Bradley then got the ball back, with a chance to go up three (before three point line), but Melchiorre’s breakaway layup was blocked by Irwin Dambrot. Dambrot then passed downcourt to Norm Mager, who hit the game-winning shot for the CCNY.[6] Of the final play, "He definitely fouled me.' Melichiorre said. "There's no question about it, we should have won."[2]

As a senior in 1950-1951, Melchiorre led Bradley to a 32-6 record, leading the team in scoring with a 10.2 average.[7]

In his Bradley career, Melchiorre was named to the Missouri Valley Conference first team three times, and in his junior year made the all-NIT team. For the 1951 season, he was an Associated Press, United Press International and Colliers Magazine first team All-American and selected by the magazine, Sports Album, as one of the two best offensive players in the country.[8]

Melchiorre was also a letter-winner on the Bradley baseball team, a member of Sigma Chi and received a degree in business administration.

Point shaving scandal[edit]

Melchiorre was involved in a massive point shaving scandal in 1951 which brought seven schools and 32 players from around the US to face charges on violations of the New York state penal code.

On July 24, 1951, Melchiorre and four of his teammates admitted taking bribes to hold down scores against St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia in 1951 and against Oregon State University in Chicago.[9]

Melchiorre and two of his teammates (Bill Mann and Mike Chinakas) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in New York. Though the players faced three years in prison, the assistant District Attorney praised the trio's cooperation, and they were given suspended sentences.[2]

NBA[edit]

After completion of his four years at Bradley and a suspended sentence for the point shaving scandal, Melchiorre entered the 1951 NBA draft. He was selected as the first overall pick in the draft by the Baltimore Bullets.

Melchiorre would never play a minute of NBA basketball, however. Not long after he admitted his role in the scandal, NBA President Maurice Podoloff banned all players involved in the point shaving scandal, including Melchiorre, from the NBA for life.

Personal[edit]

Melchiorre married Kay Boles in 1951.

He returned to his native Highland Park in the mid-1950s, at first working in the post office. He then moved into insurance and appliance sales, women's wear and finally started his own small trucking firm.

Honors[edit]

  • In 1975, Melchiorre was inducted into the Basketball Museum of Illinois/IBCA Hall of Fame.[10]
  • The Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame inducted Melchiorre in 1996.[13]
  • In 2007, Melchiorre was selected to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Time Baseball Team at 2nd Base.[14]
  • In 2009, Bradley University refused to display Melchiorre's jersey alongside others.[15]
  • In 2012, Melchiorre was inducted into the Highland Park Sports Hall of Fame.[16][17]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Rosen, Charles (20 January 1999). "Scandals of '51: How the Gamblers Almost Killed College Basketball". Seven Stories Press – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "1947-48 Bradley Braves Roster and Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  4. ^ "1948-49 Bradley Braves Roster and Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  5. ^ "City College of New York vs. Bradley Box Score, March 28, 1950". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  6. ^ Novak, Thad. "25 Greatest NCAA Tournament Finals in History". Bleacher Report.
  7. ^ "1950-51 Bradley Braves Schedule and Results". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
  8. ^ Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame: Gene Melchiorre Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Joe Goldstein, "Explosion: 1951 scandals threaten college hoops", ESPN.com, 19 Nov 2003
  10. ^ "Basketball Museum of Illinois - Gene Melchiorre". basketballmuseumofillinois.com.
  11. ^ "Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame (K-M)". Bradley University Athletics.
  12. ^ "Hall of Fame". Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
  13. ^ "GPSHOF - Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame". www.gpshof.com.
  14. ^ "MVC Announces All-Time Baseball Team". mvc-sports.com.
  15. ^ WESSLER, KIRK. "Squeaky's image not clean enough for BU president Glasser". The State Journal.
  16. ^ reporter, Sue Ter Maat, Chicago Tribune. "After years of waiting, Gene Melchiorre finally in high school's Hall of Fame". chicagotribune.com.
  17. ^ "High School Hall of Fame Inducts Six Athletes". Highland Park, IL Patch. 11 January 2012.

External links[edit]