North-South All-Star Game
and the Chuck Taylor All-Star Team

Chuck Taylor
Before there were 'McDonald's' All-Americans and before there were 'Parade' All-Americans, there were 'Chuck Taylor' All-Americans in the high school prep basketball ranks. These players were chosen from among the participants in a summertime all-star event called the "North-South Cage Classic" held in Murray Kentucky in the late 1940's through the mid-1950's.

For the first time, the best (*) high school talent from around the nation was selected and chosen to participate in this annual event held in Western Kentucky. The event would showcase a number of outstanding young basketball players, including Bob Pettit, Tom Gola, Bevo Francis, Charlie Tyra, Bailey Howell among others. Notable University of Kentucky players who participated included Gayle Rose, Jerry Bird, Earl Adkins and Vernon Hatton. A complete list of future UK players is available here.

A multitude of college coaches, newspaper and radio reporters throughout the country and past event coaches all formed the nominating committee which submitted nominations of players from their respective local areas. The players who were eventually chosen spent the week in the small town of Murray on the campus of Murray State College, practicing for the game, relaxing and otherwise attending social and charity events leading up to the main event. The event proved to be a huge draw for college coaches, intent on checking out the talent from around the country and hoping to woo one or two to attend their institution.

The crowning moment came after the game when five players were chosen "All-American" and one chosen "Mr. Basketball", based largely on how they performed in the game. Charles "Chuck" Taylor himself made the presentations although the team was named in conjunction with a committee. Taylor had been an early semi-pro basketball player in the early half of the century but was more widely known for his association with the Converse Shoe Company and the development of the basketball shoe which bears his name. His "Chuck Taylor All-Stars" shoes were by far the highest selling basketball shoe in history, with over 600 million pairs sold. Taylor also helped publish the "Converse Basketball Yearbook," which covered the game of basketball on an annual basis. Taylor began naming All-American teams beginning in 1932, however it is not clear when high school All-American teams were first named.

After the 1956 Event, an NCAA rule went into effect beginning in 1957 which forbid NCAA members, like Murray State University, from furnishing personnel or facilities for high school all-star games. This restriction posed a huge problem for the North-South organizers as there was no suitable alternative available that was unaffiliated with the school.

The organizers remained hopeful and petitioned to keep the event alive. In February 1957 it was reported that Bob Miller, chairman of the North-South Commission received a letter from H.V. Porter, who was secretary of the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations (the organization which they hoped to sanction the event) which said:

According to the Paducah Sun article (February 15, 1957): "Porter went on to explain that all states have always been opposed to these all-star games and school groups voted against proposals. . . If Murray were allowed to continue its game, it would open the gates for other cities, whose management and purpose might not measure up to those of Murray, Porter added."

To the left are the rosters of the different teams which comprised the all-star teams for this event, along with the boxscores from each game, most of which were highly competitive. Also included below are reprints of numerous national articles discussing this event along with a listing of the high scorers and the year-by-year results.

(* - While the classic did feature players from various ethnic groups, including Native American Indian Bill Hawken, French-Creole Fred LaCour and presumably Hispanic Lupe Acevedo, conspicuous in their absence were any of the highly regarded black high school athletes of the early 1950s, such as Oscar Robertson among many others.)

North-South All-Time Scorers

Arch Dees1954152332
Leo Byrd1955910128
Temple Tucker1954712426
Robin Freeman1952102322
Jackie Moreland195693521
Earl Adkins195383519
Jerry Bird195283019
Joe Ryan195583219
Bruce Brothers195275319
Ronald Johnson195675019
Gayle Rose195075319
Albert Ellison195682118
Vernon Hatton195482218
Joe Stevens195482218
Fred LaCour195674018
Togo Palazzi195074118
Dave Tschimperle195374418
Howard Hurt195680016

Murray State Gymnasium: Site of the Games

Articles about North-South Classic

CoverMagazineDateArticle Title
Converse Yearbook1949North-South National High School Championship
(by Edd Kellow)
Converse Yearbook1950North-South High School Championship
(by Edd Kellow)
Converse Yearbook1951North Repeats in N-S High School Classic
(by Erl Sensing)
Converse Yearbook1952North Beats South Third Straight Time
(by Erl Sensing)
Sports Review
January, 1953Rebels Lose Cage Tilt to Yanks
(by Erl Sensing)
Converse Yearbook1953South Wins N-S Title
(by Erl Sensing)
January, 1954Schoolboy Basketball Auction
(by Edd Kellow)
Converse Yearbook1954N-S Crown for South
(by Erl Sensing)
Converse Yearbook1955South Wins N-S Annual
(by Bill Brook)
Converse Yearbook19564th Straight for South in North-South Annual
(by Bill Brook)

All-Star Game Results
- South Leads Series 5-3 -

Mr. Basketball
19495053Mason Cope
19505849Gayle Rose
19518370Tom Gola
19528470Bruce Brothers
19537786Earl Adkins
195493109Arch Dees
19556879Leo Byrd
195695103Fred LaCour

If anyone has any additional information about this event or the persons involved, please .