Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Nickname: “The Morrys”
Colors: Black, Grass Green, Pink, Ivory
Manager: Morry Goldman
The Second Story Morrys are a unique basketball team from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with two special links to local and the national African American sports history.
The first connection is through Cumberland Posey, the Pittsburgh native who was universally considered the best black basketball player of his generation. Posey learned the finer points of basketball from a man named Charles “Chick” Davies, who was his coach at Homestead High School.
Homestead was a closely-knit and ethnically diverse steel making community in Pittsburgh. Davies and Posey led Homestead High to the Pittsburgh city high school basketball championship in 1908.
The two men parted ways after high school, and Posey went on to play basketball at Penn State and eventually at Duquesne University, where he was the team’s leading scorer for three seasons.
Meanwhile, Davies, who was also an accomplished player, eventually left his coaching position at Homestead High and joined a local all-Jewish semi-pro basketball team called the Second Story Morrys.
The Morrys were so named because they were sponsored by a downtown Pittsburgh clothing haberdasher named Morry Goldman. Goldman’s apparel shop was on the second floor of his building in downtown Pittsburgh, so he became known as “Second Story Morry” and his team took the same name.
In the early 1920s, the Second Story Morrys were one of the best basketball teams in Pittsburgh, rivaling only one other white team called the Coffey Club, whose lineup was also all-Jewish.
Both the Morrys and the Coffeys collaborated with Cumberland Posey and his powerful all-black Loendi Big Five team to stage action packed, tension filled “grudge” games that routinely sold out the 6,000-seat Union Labor Temple in Pittsburgh’s predominantly black Hill District.
The second connection of the Morrys to African American sports history had a broader impact. In 1924, Davies left the Morrys to become the head basketball coach of Duquesne University, where he remained for 24 years, posting 314 wins. By the 1940s, Duquesne had become a basketball powerhouse, with three NIT and one NCAA Final Four appearance.
But two of Duquesne’s great NIT teams were led by local African American basketball player Chuck Cooper, a sensational talent from mostly-black Westinghouse High School. It was Davies who had recruited Cooper out of high school to attend Duquesne.
Cooper went on to a spectacular career at Duquesne and in 1950, his senior year in college, he was a Consensus All-American. After graduating, Cooper made history by being selected in the draft by the Boston Celtics, becoming the first African American player drafted into the National Basketball Association.
All three Duquesne basketball men, Davies (1963), Cooper (1969), and Posey (1988) were later inducted into Duquesne University’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The Second Story Morrys lasted through the late 1920s, playing independently as well as in the Central League of Pennsylvania for one season (1926) before disbanding.
The Morrys produced several notable basketball players who accomplished great achievements beyond the team, including Ken Loeffler, who later coached LaSalle to NIT and NCAA titles and is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Carl “Moon” Klinzing, who is in Duquesne University’s Sports Hall of Fame, and “Pip” Koehler, who appeared in 12 games with baseball’s New York Giants in 1925.