Saturday, April 1, 2017

gerstmeyer & the '50s

The 1950s were a heady time for Terre Haute Gerstmeyer boy's basketball - five straight Sectional titles (1953-58), four Regional crowns (1953-54, 1956-57) and four trips to the state finals. The years of Buddy Holly & Elvis Presley were good to the Black Cats;  the only problem - they would play some of Indiana's most revered teams at tourney time.  In 1953 they made it to the championship game before falling to the South Bend Central Bears, 42-41.  1954 placed the Milan Indians in their way, while '56 & '57 brought them to the semis against the Flying Tigers of Crispus Attucks.  The Black Cats had their share of Hall of Fame players, including brothers Harley & Arley Andrews (& uncle Harold Andrews) and Bobby Leonard (captain of the 1953 IU National Champs), but the most widely recognized Gerstmeyer grad is probably Major League Baseball pitcher Tommy John.  John, a four time All Star who pitched for 6 clubs, is best remembered for being the first to have revolutionary arm surgery that replaced a damaged ligament in one arm with a healthy tendon from his other arm.  Today, this surgery is considered almost routine for pitchers of all ages.  The Black Cats of Gerstmeyer faced their final defeat in 1971 when consolidation created the new high school of Terre Haute North Vigo and even though their school has faded from memory, their legacy of championship caliber basketball lives on. CGS.


  1. The second to last photo is the girl's gym.
    Many people do not remember, but for many years Tommy John held the Vigo County scoring record when he 47 points in a game during his senior year. He was also recruited by Adolph Rupp to play basketball for Kentucky.

    1. Thanks for checking in. We did learn that the small gym was the girl's gym when we visited the old school and we couldn't pass up the great light coming in the windows...


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