RED HERRING - ALL-AMERICAN REDHEADS - WOMEN'S BASKETBALL AT ITS BEST
 
   
 
All-American Redheads 
Kitted out for the early 1950's
       
It began back in 1935. 
A man named C.M. "Ole" Olson ran and played on a mens basketball team called "Olson's Terrible Swedes". His wife owned several beauty shops around Cassville Mo. 

Several of her workers also played basketball (2 of them Redheads). 

One evening, as a joke, the entire team colored their hair. They became the talk of the town. They were known as the Cassville Red Heads until Peggy Lawson (pictured left) suggested they be called just the Red Heads.

Later, as their popularity grew and All American AAU players joined the team, All American was added to further promote the team. 

Peggy Lawson

The team would be coached by Bob "Wiggles" Surface (whom would go on to marry Peggy Lawson, and years down the road, coach her on an Industrial AAU team. 

The Red Heads became an overnight success. They would travel around the country exhibiting the same type of flair that would make the Harlem Globetrotters famous. They would even travel to the Philippines at the onset of World War II and almost got stranded. As the talent of the team improved, Olson began to add more trick plays to entertain the crowds.

The Red Heads themselves would travel to Hollywood and meet many stars. 

In 1948 Olson hired a High School coach to handle the western unit (they often had 2 teams playing at the same time around the country) named Orwell Moore. Orwell would go on to buy the team a few years later. Coach Moore said "We would always play it straight in the beginning of games...and then we would add the entertainment. We would put on a special display at half-time."

The Redheads themselves would travel to Hollywood and meet many stars such as Henry Fonda, Bing Crosby and Tyrone Power. 

As the team moved into the 1950's the team acquired some outstanding talent. Willa Faye "Red" Mason was not only an outstanding player on the court, but her antics added to the entertainment of the team. The most successful player in Redheads history from a scoring perspective was owner Orwell Moores wife, Lorene "Butch" Moore. She was an outstanding player scoring 35,426 points in 11 seasons. 

I have done much research and have found no other woman player to ever score that amount of points in basketball. She is the one on the left in the photo above. During the half-time show she would get on her knees and sink 25 free throws in a row. She could also dribble up and went she went for the lay-up, bounce it off her head and into the hoop (I have tried this and it did make me a bit dizzy after 4-5 hits on the head). She was remarkable. Considering what Orwell and Lorene did to promote womens' basketball for so many years, I hope that they are considered for the Hall of Fame.

 
The All-American Redheads hunker down for a team talk
 
Along with fundamentally sound play and well executed plays, the Redheads were also very fashionable. They were always to be a "Lady" first and foremost. 
 
Fashion conscious and sporty
I have seen approximately 12 different uniforms that they wore during the years they were together. The uniforms at the top of the page are from the early 1950's. Many of them were made of satin and heavy. 


Text and pictures by kind courtesy of

John Molina
www.allamericanredheads.com
   
       
         
       

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