We like to share vintage articles like this one to make a point that’s worth noting, and which adds to the long and rich continuum of basketball history.

Nevada State Journal
Reno, Nevada, March 16, 1952

Iowa Colored Ghosts Play In Sparks Soon

Local basketball fans will have at least one more chance to see a hoop contest this season.

The well-known Iowa Colored Ghosts will be in Sparks next Wednesday night (March 19) for a game with the Western Mercantile quint, 1952 Sparks city tournament champion.

Proceeds from the contest will be used for the Sparks high school athletic fund and for the Sparks Athletic Association’s 1952 city sports program.

Admission to the game has been set at $1 for adults and 75 cents for students.

The Ghosts, one of the West’s best-known traveling hoop teams, are currently celebrating their silver anniversary season.

They will bring to Sparks their usual assortment of trick basketball, including marathon dribbling, “football,” “baseball” and slow motion.

Listed on the Ghosts’ roster are such players as Ziggy Marcell, Buck Buckner, Babe Rand, Yippy Garland, Windy Lopez, and Pete Williams.

Prior to their Sparks engagement, the Colored Ghosts will appear in Fallon Tuesday agains the Hudson Hornets, Reno’s 1952 city league champions.

A newspaper advertisement for the Iowa Colored Ghosts, an all-black team that toured the Midwest and West during the lat e1940s and early 1950s.

One of the players mentioned in this piece, Ziggy Marcell, played alongside Jackie Robinson and George Crowe on the Los Angeles Red Devils professional basketball team of the mid-1940s.  When serious teams like the Red Devils disbanded, players like Marcell – who did not have many other playing options – often formed the nucleus of new teams that used sensational names, clowning, and comedic showmanship as an essential way of getting attention in remote predominantly white basketball-loving towns like Sparks, Nevada.

Men did what they had to do, by seizing the moment and creating new opportunities for themselves.  This was part of the evolutionary process of basketball and it’s how many players made a living – it wasn’t much, and it wasn’t the big time, but at least they were playing the game they loved while moving forward instead of standing still.