Dick Howard remembers playing basketball in Adelbert Gymnasium back in the day. Five decades ago actually, and Howard just might have been the finest basketball player of the modern Western Reserve University [Red Cats] era.
"That's a bunch of bull," Howard said humbly. "Some great players went through 'Reserve.'"
Case Western Reserve University will honor those players as well as players from Case Institute of Technology [Rough Riders] and Mather College this weekend when it hosts its third annual Throwback Weekend.
It all starts Friday when the Spartan men's basketball team puts on the Reserve maroon and the women Mather College gold and face Washington University. The women tip off at 6 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m., both in Adelbert Gym.
Although Howard may dispute the claim of greatness, his accolades back it up. The Jamestown, N.Y., native was a member of the Mid-American Conference All-Conference team four times and was an All-Ohio selection.
Howard enjoyed the on-court rivalries Reserve had during his playing days. Back then, the Red Cats enjoyed cross-town match-ups with Fenn College [Cleveland State University], Baldwin-Wallace College and John Carroll University. And don't forget the engineers beyond the fence.
"We always hated Case because they were in our backyard," Howard explained. "There was an old rickety fence between Case and Reserve, so it was convenient not to like them."
Howard use to knock heads with one of the Rough Riders all-time greats—John Hollis. Both basketball legends graduated in 1955, Hollis from Case where he held the distinction of being the only player to score over 1,000 points, [1,170].
"John was their top guy as I was for Reserve," Howard said. "We tried to out-shoot one another for four years. They even had a 'Howard and Hollis' night at old Adelbert Gym where they honored us both."
Howard topped Hollis in career points with 1,676, averaging 24.3 points per game during his Red Cat career. His single-game high was 40 points against Fenn. Not too shabby, considering the game was different back then.
"Nobody got three points for anything back then, and we also didn't play as many games as they do now," Howard said.
Howard's path to Cleveland and Reserve was paved by a high school [Jamestown] teammate named Jack Dawson. Dawson talked Red Cat Head Coach Robert J. Dewey into watching Howard play in Buffalo in the county championship and the rest, as they say, is history.
After graduating from Reserve, Howard went straight to work for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. in Akron and played ball for the Goodyear Wingfoots (AAU). He worked in sales at Goodyear for 27 years.
"In those days you stayed with a company," said Howard. "You got with a big company, and you stayed with them. Not today. If you don't move every couple years or so you are not doing it right."
Howard did move during his professional career, but it was within. After a brief stint in Western Ohio, he went to the West Coast and worked in the Los Angeles area and in San Francisco. He also worked briefly in real estate.
He and his wife Joanne permanently moved to Carbondale, Colo., [near Aspen] upon retirement.
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