A tribute to Harrison
MVP in the 1958 Tyrone Tournament
by Bill Gaffey
Harrison Schlimm died on April 15, 2017. Some present day residents of St. Marys might not be aware of the fact that Harrison was a great basketball player. Back in the ‘50’s, St. Marys and many other towns had adult teams, semi-professional by today’s standards that played in leagues and tournaments each year.
Harrison played for three local teams at different times in his career: the St. Marys Legion, WKBI, and the St. Marys Collegians. When Harrison played for the St. Marys Legion and teamed up with Ed Bosnick, it gave St. Marys one of the top teams in the tri-state area.
However, this story is about the 8th Annual Tyrone YMCA Tournament in 1958. It was a 24 team tournament, Harrison was named the MVP in the two week tournament playing for the St. Marys Collegians.
The big win for the Collegians came in the semi-finals
when they beat the State College All-Stars 75-72. Harrison led the Collegians
with 33 points as he dueled with Ron Rainey, the captain of the Penn State
University team. Rainey had 35.
The Collegians won their opening game in overtime 57-56 over Philipsburg Speranza. Harrison did not play in that game. Then, he led the Collegians in their next three games when he averaged 28 points a game.
Other members of that Collegians team were: Bill Gorman, Andy Stauffer, Lefty Salter, Bill Gaffey, Joel Mertel, Tubby Hasselman, Ray Rupprecht and Tumack Rezmurski. Larry Hoffman was the scorekeeper and “Bucky” Geci was the coach. Jack Brown traveled with the team and covered the tournament games for the St. Marys Daily Press.
The interesting sidelight about the tournament came the night of Tuesday March 25 after the game with Geesey Park. The Collegians had won the game, but when they walked out the door of the Tyrone YMCA, they found that a freak snow storm had blanked the area and the roads were deemed impassable by the state police. The Collegians were snowed in. They were scheduled to play the very next night against the Tournament favorite, the State College All-Stars comprised of players from the Penn State University collegiate team.
After some negotiation, the Tyrone YMCA officials allowed the Collegians to sleep overnight at the YMCA. The problem was they had no beds for them, so the St. Marys contingent slept on pool tables, chairs, counters, or the floor.
But after a night of little sleep, the Collegians upset the State College team 75-72 to advance to the finals. The Collegians then lost in the finals to the Centre County Sinkers. The game was tied 51-51 after four quarters, but the Sinkers prevailed 63-53 in overtime. Three players for the Collegians fouled out in the overtime, and they finished with only four players on the floor.
The line scores:
Saturday March 22, 1958
Collegians 57 Philipsburg Speranza 56 (overtime)
for the Collegians: Tubby Hasselman 19, Joel Mertel 12
Tuesday March 25, 1958
Collegians 61 Lewistown Geesey Park 46
for the Collegians: Harrison Schlimm 22, Bill Gaffey 15, Andy Stauffer 14
Wednesday March 26,1958
Collegians 75 State College All-Stars 72
for the Collegians: Harrison Schlimm 33, Joel Mertel 12, Bill Gaffey 11
Friday March 28, 1958
Centre County Sinkers 63 Collegians 53 (overtime)
Harrison Schlimm 25, Billy Gorman 12
This tournament 58 years ago was just a brief time in the basketball career of Harrison Schlimm. It was a long and brilliant career. Attached find a photo which was taken the night of Friday March 28, 1958 by Tournament officials after the finals when they named Harrison Schlimm the MVP. He is shown holding three trophies: his MVP trophy, a trophy given to the tournaments leading rebounder and one for being named to the All-Tournament team.
Heaven’s team gained a very good player and a great person!!