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|Sandy Mann, John Molina, Orwell Moore, Jolene Ammons
This website is dedicated to 4 All American
Red Heads that without their continuous support, none of this would have happened. They are Coach Orwell Moore,
Jolene Ammons, Sandy Mann and Barb Hostert
note: There is discussion if the All American Red Heads are the definitive women's basketball team like in the Harlem
Globetrotters. The Red Heads and Trotters are both in Naismith. No other professional women's basketball team
is. The Red Heads had up to 3 teams by the same name on the road at the same time. No other team had more than
1. The Red Heads lasted from 1936 to 1986. Other teams came later, like the Texas Cow Girls, mimicking the
success of the RH's, yet no team lasted later than the Red Heads.
The All American Red Heads were never the opening
card for another professional basketball team, they were the main attraction.
(You draw your own conclusion)
(Ole) Olson had a men's traveling (barnstorming) called the Terrible Swedes traversing the country since the 1920s. He was
so successful ge would spin off and create other teams like the Giants. He was always looking for a new gimmick to make
money, while playing the game he loved. .
Ole was a terrific basketball
player and one of the first men to use a behind the back pass on a regular basis. He was also a top notch business man.
The Swedes were out of Cassville
Mo. This also happened to be a hot bed for women's basketball with many of the nations top AAU teams in the
His wife, Doyle, owned several beauty salons in the Missouri and Arkansas areas.
Ole came up with the idea of creating a women's barnstorming team that would have a special gimick.
They would only play men and by mens rules. The women's game had just gone from a 3-zone court game to half
court game in 1934. Ole would have the women play a full court game.
top it off (literally), he would have all of the players have red hair. It would be an instant eye catcher and serve
as a 24/7 promotion wherever they went.
Ole recruited some of the best
talent on the court to bring together his new brainstorm. National Champions, All-Americans and even an Olympian.
Only 16 years after women got
the right to vote, the All American Red Heads left Cassville Mo to play basketball against the 'stronger' sex.
One must think back to that time in American society to where women were socially.
Few women would go onto college and not many even had basketball in school. Women would work on the farm, maybe become
a stenographer or work at a local factory.
To get paid
to play basketball and travel the country at the same time? This was as far out there as thinking an actor named Ronald
Regan would become president more than 40 years later
the Red Heads set out on the road, they weren't just playing basketball. They were pioneers in helping break down all
of these stereotypes....and didn't even know it at the time. They were just women that had a great passion to play basketball.
with social concerns, there were also physical concerns. There was still much concern at the time, that women shouldn't play
the game like a man because they weren't as physical and could hurt their chances to have children.
an instant success, yet a bit of irony could be seen at the same time. It was men that mostly filled the stands in the
gymnasiums. While many may have been initially intrigued by women playing against men in a male dominated sport, dressed those
in attendance quickly witnessed that women could not only play the game of basketball by mens rules, they could beat men at
their own game.
They were so popular, that Ole simply could not fill all of the requests that were flooding his mailbox. So, the
next season, he would create a second team. They were called the Ozark Hillbillies. In essance, these
women were a 'farm' team for the Red Heads. They would also travel across the country, with many of the players eventually
leaving on to play for the main team.
While in Hollywood in the late
30s, they would go on to meet some of the top movie stars of the time, such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Tyrone Power.
Across small town America, gyms would overflow with fans hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the greatest players
in the world on the same team. Attendances of over 1,000 was not uncommon.
The All American Red Heads would appear in some of the countries greatest magazines of
the day. Life, Look, Colliers among others published the travels of these special women.
In 1940, the team traveled to the Philippines
to play for several months.
When the team was down there, the US military issued a invasion warning that Japan
would be attacking the islands. Sensing an immediate threat, the team had to quickly escape by cattle boats that
were lead by a mine sweeper. It was a scary time for the players and not every one that traveled to the islands even got off
at the same time.
The team was on the road the day Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, and still went out to play
Due to rationing of gas, tires, etc., the All American Red Heads came off the road during
WWII. Some of the players would go work for
companies such as Boeing and would continue playing basketball
at night for them.
|1941-42 team just before invasion of Pearl Harbor
As servicemen and women
came back home after the war to end all wars, the Red Heads picked up where they left off. Some of the same players returned
and new ones were added.
In 1948, Olson offered a coaching job to an english teacher (and high school coach), Owell Moore. Moore
was a High School English teacher and was married to Lorene "Butch" Moore to one of his students. Butch loved
the Red Heads. Orwell said he would only take the job, if his wife could play on the team. This was probably the
most important decision Olson ever made.
Once again, Olson would put 2 teams on the road. The All American Red Heads and the
Famous Red Heads. The Ozark Hill Billies were eventually taken over by one of the players and faded away during WWII.
Coach Moore started with
the Famous Red Heads. 7 time All-American, Hazel Walker was player/coach of the All American Red Heads. Hazel would
take on any man to a free throw contest at half-time and only in a blue moon, would she not come out on top.
During her third season, it was found out that Hazel was booking dates for the following year for a team she would be putting
on the road. When Olson found this out he immediately sent Orwell and his team to replace Hazel and that team. Orwell
would move over to the main team with his wife and other players like Red Mason and Johnny Farley.
getting older. He had been involved in the game of basketball since 1919. In 1955, Olson would sell the Red Heads
to the Moore's and retire to a life on a farm of fishing and one of his favorite pastimes, golf.
years, Lorene would go on to score 35, 246 points in 9+ seasons. At halftime, she would get on her knees and shoot foul
shots, sometimes making 50 in a row.
The ever thinking Moore knew he needed more to keep the fans coming in, and more importantly, the money
at the gate. He loved basketball with all of his heart and soul, yet he was a business man through and through.
It was during these halftimes that the Red Heads started
putting on an extra show, while the mens team was catching their breathe for the second half.
Fancy ball handling,
trick shots and more were performed to the crowds delight. Owell Moore was years ahead of his time.
only did the Red Heads play against more physical men, Coach Moore created special halftime shows to entertain the crowds.
He realized the importance that he had to not only put a quality product on the court, but also entertain the crowd.
As the legend of a Red Heads grew, so did their traveling. In 1957 the team would take its first trip of 4 to
Imagine the sight of Native Eskimo children
watching a team of red haired women playing basketball against their local men, most who hunted by the day. They became
celebrities. Being asked to dance with the senior elders in the evenings to being chased on top of desks and furniture
by the children who wanted to touch their uniforms. In later years a player would remark "We felt like we were
The 1950s also brought the
Red Heads to national television for the first time. America would gather around their television after dinner on a
Sunday night, as they watched the Red Heads perform on the famous "Ed Sullivan Show". This would end up just
being the first of several national tv appearances.
It was during the years, up to the 60s when women's basketball was popular at the AAU level
that the Red Heads would traverse the countryside in various forms of station wagons from a Desoto and buick to a Kaiser.
A very tight fit for 7 women, their basketballs, game clothes and street clothes to fit in.
It was then when
Moore went out and purchased his first limousine. For the towns they traveled to, it became an instant conversation
for town folk as the logo painted car pulled in. For the players, it was like living at the Ritz on wheels.
While the names of the players would continue change as the years went on, the game remained the same. These women played
basketball by men's rules while other women continued to play basketball in a 6 on 6 format. In fact the winning percentage
was approaching the 80% mark by the mid to late 60s.
National tv continued with player Sandy Mann appearing on
"What's my Line", Jolene Ammons going on the camera and teaching Art Linkletter ball handling skills on "Toast
of the town" as well as "To Tell the Truth".
It should be noted that other women's basketball
barnstorming teams also existed during this time. Hazel Walker's Arkansas Travelers were still on the road. Other teams
like the Shooting Stars, Arkansas Lassies and Texas Cow Girls also hit the road. Yet for a woman named Jolene Ammons,
she turned down a contract to play for Hazel and would later wear the red white pinstriped Red Heads uniform for 12 years,
scoring over 25,000 points and also coaching 2 years.
Cheryl Clark would leave the Cow Girls to play for the Red Heads and score over
26,000 (she would also coach). Pat Overman, who was married to Coach Ben Overman went over 27,000. Charlotte Adams who
also coached (and was first woman to ask to coach in the WBL in late 70s) topped 28,000 points.
The All American
Red Heads machine was in full swing. In the early 70s Orwell Moore had 3 teams onthe road at the same time. Each
team playing more than 200 basketball games. Some of the teams were approaching the 90% winning mark.
During the 1971-72 season, the Red Heads would
win 96 games in a row, in just 96 days and would go 206-14 during that season for a 93.6% winning percentage.
Each team would also have a player designated as "Comedian". Not only id these players have to play
in the basketball game, they were responsible for getting the crowd into the game with theirspecial personalities. Some
of the great Comedians of the Red Heads included Red Mason, "Spanky" Losier and Sue Whitten.
were not only entertaining to watch, but these players were ole models for young girls and boys. Many of the young girls
grow up and become professional basketball players, a member of the All American Red Heads.
In 1969 the Moore's bought an old boys camp in Mississippi. They created "Camp
Courage", a camp designed with heavy emphasis on basketball and for girls (although a few boys also attended).
Once again, Owell Moore was ahead
of his time. Other than Cathy Rush of Immacullata fame, there was nowhere that girls could go to camp to learn the skills
needed to play the game at the highest level.
Orwell would hire his players to become coaches at Camp Courage. This provided
the All American Red Heads to earn a living almost year round in basketball. The campers would get to learn from their
own hero's. The camp became known nationwide with requests from as far away as Alaska and players attending from over
Some of these
kids became so good, they would get drafted as an All American Red Head when they finished high school. Barb Hostert
was one of those special campers that worked so hard as a high school kid, she went on to play for the All American Red Heads
for 8 years and even played for the Milwaukee Does of the WBL in 1978-9 before returning to the Red Heads to finish
her career. Gwen Reed was another example of a Camp Courage camper going to the Red Heads and WBL.
In 1973, a law went into effect which is commonly
known as Title IX. It gave girls (actually everyone) the right to equal opportunities as everyone else. It
was a milestone for girls and women in sports both in school and college. If there was a boys basketball team, then
their had to be an opportunity for a girls basketball team. Women could play basketball while they attended college
in hopes to graduate with a degree.
The landscape began to change. Colleges that only had men's basketball teams now were required
to field a women's team. It was a great step for women.
Yet, as great as it was for women, it would serve to become the beginning stages of the end of the barnstorming teams,
including the Red Heads. Women could now go to college and continue to play basketball, while before Title IX, there
were fewer colleges offering that possibility.
In high schools, where the Red Heads played their games,
the gymnasiums became harder to book as it was being filled with more sports for girls.
Yet, national tv shows
like Mike Douglas featured Jolene Ammons showing actress Betty White how spin a basketball on 1 finger and Good Morning America
brought on player/coach Charlotte Adams to talk about her team.
Sports Illustrated featured a multi-page color
pictured article on the team while on the road in 1974.
By the mid 1970s, the Red Heads were
back down to 1 team on the road.
It was during this time, they also featured a team that had all gone to college
first. A complete reversal from earlier days when women went to play
for the Red Heads before going to college.
Still, they would continue to attract and dazzle crowds up until their final
year of 1986.
was that year that Orwell and Lorene's son, Burnie would take over the coaching
duties and win over 90% of their games before hanging up their sneakers
for the last time.
Yet, the story
doesn't end there.
The All American Red Heads have
had many reunions.
in Oregon in 2010 when they were honored at the Senior Pan American games. Players laced up their sneakers one more
time to play Alumni of the NBA's Portland Trailblazers.
were officially nominated to the Naimsith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 2012, the became the first women's basketball team ever inducted in the Hall of Fames's
53 year history. Until that point, only 9 teams had previously gotten the nod.
|1940s team after WWII
When people first hear of the All American Red Heads, they are usually
reminded of the movie "A League of Their Own"". Check out this web site about that league
National Girls Baseballl League
Regarding John Molina's work...
"It is one of the finest collections on women's basketball,"
said Michael Brooslin, museum curator at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield (Hartford Courant May