In its first enshrinement class, the newly created Franklin Community High School Alumni Hall of Fame will induct basketball pioneer George Crowe tomorrow in a special ceremony at the school’s state of the art facility in Franklin, Indiana.

Crowe, who had been the school’s first African American varsity basketball player, led the 1938-39 Franklin HS Grizzly Cubs basketball to the Indiana High School State Basketball Championship final during his senior year and was named as Indiana’s first ever “Mr. Basketball” for that season.

Crowe subsequently became a star at Indiana Central College in Indianapolis (now Indianapolis University), played professional basketball with the New York Renaissance and the Dayton Rens, and was enshrined in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976. He also played in the Major Leagues of Baseball with several teams including the Boston Braves, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals.

The 1938-39 Franklin (Indiana) High School Cubs basketball team

The 1938-39 Franklin (Indiana) High School Cubs basketball team, which had a 25-4 record before losing in the state high school championship tournament, featuring George Crowe (#9, front row, third from left) who was Indiana’s first “Mr. Basketball” and later played professional basketball with the New York Renaissance (“Rens”) and the Dayton Rens as well as in the Major Leagues with several baseball teams including the Boston Braves, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals. First Row (l. to r.) R. Anderson, Jones, G. Crowe, Drake, Rider, Ritchey. Second Row (l. to r.) Coach R. F. Vandivier, McQuinn, Wales, Murphy, Campbell, Principal Paul Garrison. (Courtesy of the Black Fives Foundation Archives.)

According to its statement announcing the event, the Franklin Community High School Alumni Hall of Fame was created in 2014 to honor FCHS graduates who have distinguished themselves and exemplified the school’s guiding principles of communication, individual student growth, leadership, systemic continuous improvement, and trust. The criteria are based on the nominee as a role model, leadership at local, state, national, and/or international levels through their chosen career or vocation, and/or their contribution to society through their work or their donation of time.

More details about the event are included in an informative article by Abby Armbruster of the the Indiana Daily Journal.

The FCHS Alumni Hall of Fame Class of 2015 also includes former Indiana governor Roger D. Branigin (Class of 1919), Merck & Company vice president and chief financial officer Rob Davis (Class of 1985), veteran FCHS school teacher Jane Hughey (Class of 1965), and former NBA player Jon McGlocklin (Class of 1961) as well as Robert P. “Fuzzy” Vandivier (Class of 1922), who has his own important connection to George Crowe.

Vandivier not only coached that 1938-39 team with Crow as its captain but also was the school’s athletic director for many years. In addition, he previously played for an earlier version of the Grizzly Cubs, the famed Franklin “Wonder Five” of the early 1920s, a team that won three straight Indiana High School State Basketball Championships. Vandivier subsequently became a college star and was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.

As great as Vandivier was, he once called Crowe “the best money player I have ever seen.” Many years later Crowe would be a pallbearer at the funeral of his old coach.

For our details about George Crowe, please see our series of articles on him: George Crowe: A Life In The Right Place At The Right Time.