Fifth Annual Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction (#28)
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The importance of the N.I.B.L. cannot be overstated. In 1952 the N.B.A. dropped seven teams while the N.I.B.L. was flourishing expanding to eleven with guaranteed year round employment with strong companies like Goodyear, Caterpillar and Phillips Petroleum. N.B.A. players needed to find their own off-season jobs. The N.I.B.L. was close to matching the pros in collegiate talent. To quote hall of fame coach Alex Hannum who coached the Wichita Vickers of the industrial league and the world champion Sixers and St. Louis Hawks of the N.B.A, "if you took a scale of ten as the caliber of the NBA you'd put college ball at about a five and the NIBL at an eight or nine." The Peoria Cats were an industrial league team in Peoria, Illinois, sponsored by Caterpillar, Inc. They were enormously successful in the 1950s, winning five AAU national tournament championships in the years 1952-60. The team sent numerous players to the U.S. Olympic teams of that era. The Cats represented the United States in the second FIBA World Championship in 1954 and won the tournament. Ron Bontemps was one of the greatest players in the Peoria Caterpillars’ illustrious basketball history, having paced three Cat teams to national titles in 1952, 1953, and 1954. Bontemps was named AAU All-American in 1953 and 1954. He also was a key member and captain of the 1952 Olympic basketball team, which won the coveted Gold Medal with a stunning victory over Russia in the title game. In the inside back collar is the “Keenan Sporting Goods” manufacturer’s tag. Attached is the size “42” flag tag. Across the front is "CATERILLAR." Below on the front and on back is the player number "15." All lettering and numbering is done in yellow tackle twill. There is a crotch piece with buttons attached to the bottom. In the back inside waistband of the satin shorts is the “Rawlings” manufacturer’s size 34 tag. Next to this is the wash instructions tag. The uniform shows tremendous game-use and appears to have no alterations of any kind. Accompanied by a LOA from Ron Bontemps. Includes a 1956-1957 Peoria Cats program in near mint condition.


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Current Bid: $550
Price Realized: $660
Number Bids: 3
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