How much do you know about history? Wait, let me rephrase that. How much do you know about the history of women's basketball? I wish there was videos of the story I am about to tell. Sadly this story is before video, back when film was used, and to use film was expensive. this story dates back to the Wizard of OZ era. Basketball itself was still an infant stages. the NBA was 11 years away it wasn't even a thought yet.
The year is 1938. Ole Olson 2 years prior created a team from Cassville, MO. "Olson's Red Heads". The team was composed of 7 women's players who would travel and promote Doyle (Ole's Wife) Olson's chain of salons. This team was composed of some of the best women's players like Ruth Osborn, Kay Kirkpatrick, Hazel Vickers, Peggy Lawson and other's. They were a women's barnstorming team who played men's teams. Personally, from my research I don't think Olson realized how popular this would become. If you don't know what Barnstorming is let me catch you up. People would call and book this team to come to their town and play a team put together of men within the area. Well when this idea first took shape. These women would come in play the men and back in 1936 women stayed in the kitchen and had children. Not beat men at their own game!!!
The reason I say this is when these men would begin losing the game they would often turn to rougher tactics. Such as shoving, tripping and often time try to injure these women. ( remember this is just after the cager era where men played basketball in caged courts and was easily the most violent time in basketball. Also, these women were playing 200 games per season so of course people are going to get injured
So let's fast forward back to 1938 Olson had the idea to start a 2nd team. Sort of a "spare tire" team to play more games and generate more money, but also if one women on the "RedHeads" was injured he could easily have a player go from one location to another and be ready to go. So he would begin recruiting players. The original team would consist of Elenanor Laich, Lucy Peters, Lorene " Danny" Daniels, Vina Hobbs, Jo Darrow and of course Nota McCain. This first team would also have a man on the roster Joe Satovich. The team would be coached by a man named Bernard Cowden. and just like that the team was off and running. They just need a gimmick the Red heads would all Dye their hair red. The Hillbillies would warm up dressed like hillbillies and act like hillbillies that couldn't play. Once the game was ready to start they would remove the Hillbilly act and reveal their uniforms and that's when you would be in trouble
This team would also become just as popular playing across the united states playing almost 200 games themselves. from the start though this team had issues. First off the bat, somewhere after reaching California Joe would abandon the team leaving them with 6 players, but they would carry on. The next year they would add players like Monica Taylor, Nora Moncrief and Tex Nabors. The team was gaining momentum and becoming just as popular as their big sister team.
So what happend? I know your looking at me like if this team was so popular what happend? Why have I never heard of them? Well in April 1940 before the Red Heads made a trip to the Philippines and they decided to play a scrimmage the Red Heads vs the Hillbillies. The Hillbillies would lose.....in double overtime.....by 2 points.
Now in the summer of 1940 the Phillipines would be invaded. So the Red Heads wpould end up escaping in a Cattleboat. And in the 1940-41 season for the Red Heads would see a completely new team. Players like Allegra "Stubby" Winters and Gene Love would join the Hillbillies, but quickly earn spots on the Red Heads. One of the Red Heads ( Ruth Osborn) would end up taking over booking games and eventually bought the Hillbillies from Olson. in 1942 due to the war tires and gas would be rationed pulling barnstorming teams from the road not being able to travel. The Hillbillies would continue until 1943.
So what happend when the war ended. Well, in 1945 Danny Daniels, Vina Hobbs, Ruth Haines, would come back as now Red Heads joining Gene love, Stubby Winters and the great Hazel Walker. Until 1949 when a new Red heads team was introduced. After which Lorene would play with the Famous Red Heads and then would reunite with Bernard Cowden, Toby Mcgee and Ruth Haines and form the Original Famous Red Heads. What happend to Ruth Osborn . Personally I don't know, I just know after World War 2 the Hillbillies would would never play another game and as time went on would be almost forgotten in history. They should never be forgotten as they were one of the pioneering teams that made it possible for women to play today.