| Early Years | Oshkosh All-Stars | Articles | Letters | Quotations |
LeRoy Edwards left Kentucky after his sophomore year to his hometown of Indianapolis and never returned to campus. He had gotten married and had also been offered a industrial job which offered $2400 per year, which was only slightly less than the $2800 per year Adolph Rupp was making. Edwards quickly made a name for himself on the pro circuit and became a dominate player and gate attraction.
|1935-36||Indianapolis US Tire|
|1936-37||Dayton London Bobbys|
Edwards also reportedly played for Muncie (IN) along with various other teams (including the Indianapolis Kautskys and Oshkosh All-Stars), mainly as a ringer for big games.
Edwards went on to join the Oshkosh All-Stars for good just as the National Basketball League (NBL) was being formed. Oshkosh was a small community, but one that was very supportive of their hometown team, which was owned by Lonnie Darling. The All-Stars were one of the most successful pro franchises of the era, as they won the Western Division of the NBL six times during the years Edwards was on the team.
Edwards led the league in scoring the first three seasons (1937-38, 1938-39 and 1939-40) along with being named Most Valuable Player in the league each of those years. It was also during those years that Oshkosh won their division. Edwards was the first NBL player to score 30 points in a game against Kankakee in 1938.
During his career, Edwards was named 'All-League' First Team six times and was twice named to the 'All-League' Second Team. He was there at the beginning of the NBL and was there at the end, as Edwards retired for good the final year of the league.
|1937-38||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||13||83||44||63||31||210||16.1|
|1938-39||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||28||124||86||118||67||334||11.9|
|1939-40||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||28||111||139||203||69||361||12.9|
|1940-41||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||23||57||76||121||70||190||8.3|
|1941-42||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||24||85||92||--||53||262||10.9|
|1942-43||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||23||74||72||103||64||220||9.6|
|1943-44||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||19||48||52||92||41||148||7.8|
|1944-45||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||30||125||157||--||96||407||13.6|
|1945-46||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||34||120||119||200||114||359||10.6|
|1946-47||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||44||135||144||222||134||414||9.4|
|1947-48||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||46||76||142||205||146||294||6.4|
|1948-49||Oshkosh All-Stars (NBL)||10||7||8||20||24||22||2.2|
Article by Gilbert LaBudde (Oshkosh Northwestern) in Allsports Magazine, Jan-Feb 1948. Vol 8, No. 1 - "Most colorful netter on the All-Star combination, and an Oshkosh fixture now playing his 11th consecutive season in the league, is Leroy "Cowboy" Edwards. This 6-foot, 4-inch smoothie has been on intimate terms with a basketball ever since he played with Technical High in Indianapolis. From there he went to Kentucky to achieve All-America rating. Then he played with other squads in the National loop for two seasons before Oshkosh joined. Edwards can make the leather disappear when he's on the pivot spot, which he played with fluid perfection. It's a rare night when Cowboy can't elude the behemoth guarding him from behind with a deceptive hip fake and pour in the points with either hand. A special two-man defense is about the only method of harnessing him, and that leaves a teammate free to pot two-pointers."
Article by Myles Strasser about Leroy Edwards and the Oshkosh All-Stars. - "He was something. More than any other All Star, Lefty Edwards made Oshkosh synonymous with championship professional basketball. There were other good ones, to be sure, but Lefty had it all: ability, charisma, charm, glow. He was the star."
Article in The Sheboygan Press (August 10, 1953) about the rivalry between Oshkosh All-Stars and the Sheboygan Redskins - "Two men who were to become standouts for their respective clubs led scoring in those first games. Rube Lautenschlager (originally from Oshkosh) sank 11 as the top man of the frst game in Redskin togs, while the incomparable Leroy "Cowboy" Edwards hooked 16-14-16 in the other three to give Oshkosh high scoring honors. Edwards was to become the individual standout of the long series by personally leading scoring in 18 games; no other man ever matched him. . . the Cowboy was the killer of them all."
Letters from Teammates and others
Letter (Part 1 and Part 2) from Oshkosh teammate and Hall of Famer Gene Englund - "Of the players I have seen and played with, I can say without reservation such an honor (induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame) would be most deserving to a man who had done such a great job as a player and was an important part in the pioneering of professional basketball. . . During his years in professional basketball, he was highly regarded for his ability as an individual and unselfish team player."
Letter (Part 1 and Part 2) from Oshkosh teammate Charlie Shipp - "Lefty was the strongest player I ever played against or with. I remember a game where I was lucky enough to get 11 rebounds and threw 11 passes the length of the court to Lefty for 11 baskets in one quarter so he wasn't only strong he was also fast. I remember when we used to play the then famous New York Rens when Tarzan Cooper was their center (and the old center jump was still in basketball) they talked Leroy into letting them get the tap every other jump. If they hadn't agreed to that, they knew it would be next to impossible for them to outjump or out-muscle Lefty. . . Lefty was the kind of player that I could rave on about, but to sum it all up one short sentance, he was just a complete ballplayer. . . I just wish I had the vocabulary to tell just how great he really was."
Letter from Oshkosh teammate Bill McDonald - "Besides having one of the best hook shots off the pivot, he was also a prolific passer and never missed the open man going past the pivot. Although only 6 ft. 4 in. tall, he held seven feet George Mikan to 3 points. . . . I think Leroy Edwards has all of the credentials necessary to enter into the Hall of Fame and although he is not around to enjoy the thrill and honor of making the Hall of Fame, it would make his family extremely proud."
Letter (Part 1 and Part 2) from Oshkosh teammate Fred Rehm - "Leroy was, for many year, the Post man around which the Oshkosh All-Stars were built -- a team that was one of the founding and dominating forces in the National Basketball League during its existence. . . As a former teammate of 'Leftys', mine was a first-hand and enjoyable experience while playing with one of pro basketballs early greats. Few people ever dominated a team, or a league, as did "Lefty" Edwards in his heyday. 'Leftys' matchups with George Mikan and the other outstanding pro centers of his day were classic encounters that seldom found him wanting or outplayed."
Letter (Part 1 and Part 2) from Oshkosh teammate Lou Barle - "The above honors were accomplishments mostly through the efforts of one great individual, Leroy Edwards. Leroy was the greatest 6 foot five inch basketball player in the country at that time. He was a complete team player and was always more interested in winning games for the team than he was in his own individual accomplishments."
Letter from Oshkosh teammate Virgil Batterman - "In my opinion, and that of countless others, he was without a doubt the profession's most oustanding player in the Professional Basketball League. . . Also, he was well received and did many outstanding things for the City of Oshkosh in his playing days."
Letter (Part 1 and Part 2) from former Arsenal Tech player and pro opponent Frank Baird - "I have known Leroy since he was fourteen years of age. He was a freshman at Tech High School of Indianapolis when I was senior at Tech High School. He was one of Tech's greatest basketball players, also a good citizen and well liked by all. . . In my years of play with the Indianapolis Kautsky's, a member of the Mid-West Conference and the old National Basketball League, he was one our most respected opponents as a team player as well as an individual player. His play was responsible for a lot of great half-court offense built around the use of the pivot play."
Letter from Sheboygan Redskin opponent Rube Lautenschlager - "In my estimation, Leroy was the best center in organized basketball during his era and he deserves to be nominated to the National Basketball League Hall of Fame . . . Leroy conducted himself as a gentleman on the court and he had the respect of the players and fans during the great period of early professional league basketball."
Letter from Sheboygan Redskin opponent John Posewritz - "Leroy "Lefty" Edward certainly belongs with this group of players. Always stood out in his play."
Letter from Sheboygan Redskin opponent Ed Dancker - "I played against "Lefty" for about ten years and feel that I got to know him pretty well. He could 'out jump' and 'out maneuver' the best of them and I might add here 'out elbow' them, for I have the scars to prove it. He also threw a 'hook shot' that very rarely missed the ring. . . In addition to being a good ball player he was a conscientious father, husband and citizen."
Letter from Sheboygan Redskin opponent and Baltimore Bullet Tony Kelly - "In my six years of Professional Basketball . . . I must say that "Lefty" Edwards was one of the toughest, most durable centers I every played against . . . Although I played guard and would not defense him directly, the comments of our centers would reflect the strength and ability of "Cowboy" Edwards."
Letter from former official Jim Enright - "During some of his 13 seasons in the NBL I officiated games when he played for Oshkosh and he was one of the truly outstanding pivot men: strong, big, powerful & definitely court-wise in the use of his rugged elbows going right or left . . . This much I can tell you: they played some pretty rugged basketball in the old NBL, & Lefty was always front & center during his reign as a young pro in play-for-pay basketball . ."
Letter (Part 1 and Part 2) from former official Richard Lowell - "In my estimation he was one of the greatest basketball players I ever officiated for, and I officiated for thousands of them. He was a great defensive player as well as a great offensive player. He was a 40 minute ball player, giving 110% to his team at all times. A gentleman on the court at all times, also a gentleman off the court as well. He was a great team player, never selfish, always very courteous to officials. Extremely well liked and respected by his teammates as well as his opponents. . . . I worked about 50 games in which Leroy Edwards played in. So I think I am qualified to recommend Leroy Edwards to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He deserves to be inducted and enshrined in it. Please do not pass this great player and gentleman up."
Letter (Part 1 and Part 2) from former official and high school and college coach Ken Hansen - "The many years that he led or was among the leaders in NBL scorers, along with his choice as all-league and all-tournament at the Chicago World Tournament proved that he was the best big man in his era. His head to head combat with George Mikan came in Lefty's twilight years, but he didn't come out second best. . . I attended hundreds of games played in the NBL and saw every good center that played in the leagues including, Stretch Murphy (Purdue) Feed Murphy (Loyola) Mikan (DePaul) George Glamack (No. Car.) Moose Krause (Notre Dame) Ed Sadowski (Seton Hall) and even back to the Dutch Dehnert of the early days."
Letter from Marge Darling, wife of Oshkosh owner Lonnie Darling - "Leroy (Lefty) Edwards was on the All Star team for years and was one of our best players. He made it possible for the team to become the World Champions in 1946-47 (sic)."
Letter from Joe Hauser, former Philadelphia Athletic and local Sheboygan athletic promoter - "He was the 'George Mikan' of professional basketball before Mikan's time. He was recognized by the players of his time and appreciated by the fans wherever he played."
Letter from Hall of Fame coach and President of the Boston Celtics Arnold "Red" Auerbach to Jodie Edwards Peters - "I've heard so much about Leroy Edwards way way back but unfortunately I never saw him play. However, if Lee Williams or anybody in the Hall of Fame Committee should ask me, I would be more than happy to tell them what I know about his remarkable career. If I recall, he was the first real big man in the game and I want to wish you luck in this project."
"In anticipation of the SPHAs' arrival, Kautsky recruited an aggregate of new players, including Leroy "Cowboy" Edwards, an Indianapolis native who had won the league scoring title at Oshkosh the previous year. Edwards had a hook shot that was equally lethal from either his right or left hand." - Pioneers of the Hardwood, by Todd Gould, Indiana University Press (1998) pg. 80.
"Cowboy" Edwards was the shining star for the U.S. Tires. In one contest against Akron, he poured in 16 points to lead the Tires to a 43-22 victory. Five of his field goals came in rapid succession in the third quarter. The big Indianapolis forward was so impressive, even players on the Akron bench stood and applauded his efforts." - Pioneers of the Hardwood, by Todd Gould, Indiana University Press (1998) pg. 82.
"In Leroy Edwards, former All-American from Kentucky, Oshkosh has the greatest center in college or professional basketball. Weighing 210 pounds and standing 6 feet, 4 inches in height, Edwards is unbelievably clever for a big man, and he has a deceiving burst of speed.
"Equipped with a pair of hands that resemble grappling hooks and blessed with the strength of a horse, Edwards can meet any team at its own game and do a great job. He rolled in 20 points against the "Rens" on nine field goals and two free throws Sunday afternoon with some brilliant work around the basket, and when the colored players started shoving him, Edwards caught the spirit of hurly-burly fun and outshoved and outmauled them." - in article by Henry McCormick, "No Foolin' Now," Wisconsin State Journal, December 13, 1937.
"For three years the BAA competed with the National Basketball league, a pro loop based mostly in smaller midwestern cities. Founded in 1938 by industrial-league teams in Akron and Fort Wayne, the NBL had struggled through the war with semi-pro players employed in defense industries. After 1945, still shut out of most major cities, the NBL showcased some great ball-players. Leroy Edwards of the Oshkosh All-Stars, now tailing off at the end of his career, had led the NBL in scoring three times with his strength and deft hook shot. (Adolph Rupp, briefly Edwards' college coach at Kentucky, always called him the best pivot man he'd ever seen.)" - Big Leagues: Professional Baseball, Football and Basketball in National Memory by Stephen Fox. U of Nebraska Press (1994)/Bison Books (1998) pg 296-297.
When Mikan quit the Gears, coach Lon Darling of the Oshkosh All-Stars of the NBL said it wasn't about the money. Darling suggested that Mikan was scared of the competition.
"Mikan is getting every cent he was promised," Darling told Milwaukee sports columnist R.G. Lynch. "He just wants to get out of tough company into a league where they haven't got so many good big boys playing center against him." Darling boasted that two of his players handled Mikan, who pleaded for easier treatment.
"(Leroy) Edwards and (Gene) Englund stopped him cold the first time we played the Gears, and when we played them again in Chicago, Mikan was begging," Darling said. "He said to (Edwards), 'Don't stop me tonight. I want to get some points: My folks are all here.' (Edwards) said: 'My boss is here, too.' Mikan just can't take it."
"George Mikan and the Chicago Gears beat the Pittsburgh and Sheboygan teams in the first round of playoffs, but, in the semi-finals, old pro Leroy Edwards gave Mikan a lesson in center play, by scoring 24 points and knocking off the Gears 72-66." - Sports Encyclopedia - Pro Basketball
George Mikan, pro basketball - "Cowboy Edwards, then with Oshkosh, made the most impression on me, maybe because I was just starting in as a pro with Chicago. He had huge, powerful hands and a habit of squeezing my knee so hard, when the referee wasn't looking, I'd be paralyzed for a second while he was shooting. Once he knocked out four of my teeth. He outweighed me near 80 pounds and knew all there was to know." - in article "Mikan Feared Edwards - Sports Stars Pick Their Toughest Foes," (United Press), Syracuse Herald-Journal August 27, 1957, page 23.
George Mikan, who is considered to be the first of the big centers, remembers his battles with Oshkosh's Leroy "Cowboy" Edwards and Gene Englund. "I'll tell you one thing, it was real tough," Mikan said. "The guys were always trying to best me. We were No. 1. Cowboy Edwards was a gigantic, strong man. Gene Englund was also tough, and he came from the University of Wisconsin." - by D. Orlando Ledbetter, "Wisconsin was Hotbed for Early Professional Basketall," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel February 8, 1997.
The guy's name was Cowboy Edwards, his team was the Oshkosh All-Stars and the year was 1946, or the rookie season for the big kid out of DePaul University now playing for the Chicago American Gears. The one, that is, wearing the spectacles and the "99" on his chest, although those digits - thanks to the much-publicized and exorbitant annual salary of $12,500 he was pulling down - might just as well have been a bull's eye. . . "The guy was about 6-foot-9 (sic), 280 pounds, arms like my thighs," he said on Friday afternoon of Edwards. "It was one of the first games I ever played and - bang - he hit me so hard, four teeth came flying out of my mouth and onto the floor. But you know something ? He was a helluva nice guy. Just tough is all." - George Mikan in article "The Mighty Mikan," by Bud Poliquin in Syracuse Herald American, March 26, 1989, pg. E8.
Edwards would go on to become the second highest scorer in the NBL League, scoring over 3000 points. (behind Hall of Famer Robert McDermott) Edwards was also named to the All-Time All-NBL first team.
All-Time NBL Scoring Leaders (1937-1949)
|Bobby McDermott, FtW-Chi-Sheb-TC||287||3583||12.4|
|Leroy Edwards, Oshkosh||322||3221||10.0|
|Gene Englund, Oshkosh||238||2600||10.9|
|Ed Dancker, Sheb-Osh||321||2490||7.7|
|Al Cervi, Buf-Rich-Syr||187||2326||12.4|
|Don Otten, Buf-TC||168||2292||13.6|
|Michael Novak, Chi-Sheb-Syr||267||2279||8.5|
|Bob Carpenter, Osh-Ham||209||2140||10.2|
|George Glamack, Akr-Roch-Ind-Ham||202||2138||10.5|
|Jake Pelkington, Akr-FtW||226||1949||8.6|
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