Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NMSU Aggies Prior to WWII

New Mexico State University
New Mexico State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all know how big college athletics have become today. But before television and the popularization of football and basketball professional leagues, college athletics were very different. This article, written by Walter Hines, takes a look at New Mexico State University athletics. Even back in the late 1890's, NMSU, then called NM A&M, fielded teams which competed with local universities and clubs, not only in the U.S., but also Mexico.

Here, Hines takes a look back at the 1938-39 Aggies basketball team which earned a trip to the N.I.T. At the time, the N.I.T. was the biggest college basketball tournament in the nation.
They relied on a dizzying fast break triggered by Jackson's rebounding and outlet passes, Martinez's ball handling and generalship, and Finley's running, Cousy-like one handers. A week after a thrilling victory over Texas Tech at Williams Gym, a telegram from the Metropolitan Sportswriters arrived at State College. The Aggies had been invited to the second annual National Invitation Tournament in New York City. The team left El Paso's Union Station by train amidst great ballyhoo. The entourage included Jerry and Nona Hines, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Williams, and Paul Walter of the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce. 
After a three-day trip, the Aggies arrived in Gotham and were awestruck. They toured the sites, including the Empire State Building, Radio City, the unfinished World's Fair site, Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, Grant's Tomb, and the Statue of Liberty. They appeared on closed circuit TV, saw a hockey game at Madison Square Garden, and attended a dinner in their honor at Jack Dempsey's restaurant. The Manassa Mauler wowed the group with his charm and stories of his youth in northern New Mexico and Colorado. The Aggies, according to John Kieran of the New York Times, were colorful and resplendent in "ten-gallon hats, cowboy boots, fawn-colored corduroy pants, crimson [letter] jackets and cerise shirts! But they were great big fellows, so it was no laughing matter."
Let's remember the good times...back before World War II. Ugh.

[Aggie Sports - The Early Years]

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