All American Red Heads 1936-1986

Page 2 of the Story

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various uniforms and a warmup in the center

NOMINATED FOR AN EMMY


Positively Connecticut™, Fall 2002 has been nominated for outstanding informational program by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences/ Boston/New England Chapter. The Fall episode of Positively Connecticut included segments on the world’s largest private collection of women’s basketball memorabilia

The Story continues:

In the fall of 1948, Olson made what turned out to be the most significant move in Red Heads history when he hired a hotshot young coach named Orwell Moore as road manager. Moore was cutting his teeth at several small high schools around Arkansas when he first met Olson. The All American Red Heads had become so popular that there were no open dates on the calendar. Olson figured the time was right to put a second team on the road again. The Famous Red Heads – a farm team to the first unit – hit the ground running with seven new faces in 1948. The first coach was not working out so Olson was looking for a replacement to coach his second unit. 

Orwell Moore and C.M. Olson were cut from the same cloth. Bold. Fearless. Loyal. Moore was a country boy through and through. He saw his future in teaching and coaching, and maybe a little farming on the side. His new bride, Lorene, played basketball for him in high school. Years later, Orwell recalled how excited Lorene was when he received the offer from Olson to coach the Famous Red Heads. Her approval was all he needed to make the life-changing decision. Orwell coached and managed one Red Heads team or another for the next seven seasons. Lorene played several seasons scoring more than 35,000 points for her career.

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Decoupage pictures done by "Butch" Moore for Camp Courage

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1965 Warmup coat donated by Becky Harp Pritchett

Olson always was a good judge of character. He handpicked his rosters locating talent in the most remote places. Still, there was no way Olson could have known the impact his latest find would have on the All American Red Heads the day he called to steal the young coach away from his post at Caraway High School. Olson trusted Moore. In 1954, when Olson finally retired from the game, he handed the reins over to the only person he felt would carry the torch of his beloved Red Heads. Basketball was losing one of its greatest minds but gaining one of its greatest characters. Orwell Moore loved the Red Heads dearly. For the next thirty years, he would pour his heart and soul into keeping the All American Red Heads on top of the basketball world. 

The All American Red Heads continued to log more and more miles each passing year under the direction of Orwell Moore. He understood the importance of introducing his traveling road show to new audiences. He was unflappable in his desire to make the Red Heads the most popular attraction in basketball. He entertained the idea of touring Europe, Asia, Australia, and Hawaii. In any given season, Moore scheduled upwards of 200 games in at least forty states in six months. His basketball nomads played “anyone, anytime, anywhere” carrying on the tradition that lasted nearly fifty seasons. The schedule was always demanding and each passing year new towns and new teams were added to the slate. Moore’s Top of the World tours in Alaska – five in all – aptly described the general feeling around the Red Heads family.

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mid 1970s game (notice the crowd attendence)

 

Coach Moore spent most of his professional life advocating for equality in sports. The All American Red Heads broke down barriers, challenged the social and cultural traditions of an entire nation, and generally opened doors to women that were previously closed in the world of sports. In the summer of 1972, the United States Congress passed into law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Commonly referred to as Title IX, this seemingly innocent piece of legislation has been at the heart of the debate over men’s and women’s athletics ever since. Title IX signaled a new era in women’s sports as equal access to scholarships, sports facilities, and athletic equipment was mandated in public education. The effect was almost immediate and the gains tremendous. Sports programs for women increased at all levels as Title IX legislation elevated the quality of the athletic experience.

The All American Red Heads were pioneers in the crusade for equality, setting the table but unable to eat with those who followed. The first 36 years of operation served notice that women were part and parcel to the world of sports. Ironically, the revolution that Orwell Moore, C.M. Olson before him, and all of the Red Heads over the years worked so hard for eventually led to the demise of the very agent of that change. The Red Heads continued to play basketball until 1986, but the years following the passage of Title IX failed to capture the magic of those first four decades. Under a separate set of circumstances and for different reasons, the All American Red Heads ultimately suffered the same fate as the Terrible Swedes fifty years prior when Orwell Moore ended the reign of the longest-running women’s professional sports team in history.

  

 

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Actual scorecard from a All American Red Heads game

 

The All American Red Heads played basketball for the better part of six decades. Only the Harlem Globetrotters compare favorably in terms of games and miles and years. The Red Heads appeared in magazines such as Life, Look, Colliers, and Sports Illustrated. They shared the stage with Ed Sullivan and Art Linkletter and played before Hollywood A-listers like Marlene Dietrick, Bing Crosby, and the incomparable Fred Astaire. In a span of 50 years, presidents came and went including FDR, JFK, and LBJ. Elvis Presley and the Beatles made young girls twist and shout. Neil Armstrong made one giant leap for mankind. Women like Betty Friedan and Billie Jean King fought for equal rights. The All American Red Heads, pioneers in the same crusade, played basketball for a greater cause.

 

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2004 reunion in Oklahoma City

Along with so many players of the All American Red Heads, coaches, and their families helping this effort, I would also like to thank the following people that have donated to this work through pictures, articles, posters and more.

Rod Cota

Fred Fuisher

Doug Vander Linden

Corina Seashore

 

Donations will be used to help fund various women's basketball web sites as well as fund existing current and future preservation efforts (such as work on the book of the All American Red Heads.

Donations of $50.00 and above, person will receive 2 original promotional 8x10 pictures of the All American Red Head players (my choice) and an original All American Red Heads program from the 1970s.

Thank you for your support and have a pleasant day Smile

John

Copyright 2008 John A. Molina