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Former Dover Basketeer pens book

Kirby Terakedis, left; Don Maurer, seated on a knee; Rik Haines, in front of Maurer; Steve Trustdorf, with the ball; and Todd Ramsey and Eric Cato, down front. This is the 1960-61 team that appeared in the Jerry Lewis film. Coach George Elford is at center.


They were known coast to coast in the quiet Eisenhower years of the late 1950s, in demand as halftime basketball performers as their fame spread into the 1960s. They were the subject of documentaries and magazine articles, appeared on television, and were sought out for advertising campaigns. They even appeared in a film with Jerry Lewis.
The Dover Basketeers were young kids from a small Ohio town who were a part of something magical. Yet few among recent generations know or remember their story.
Don Maurer, who was a member of the Basketeers at the peak of their fame, wanted to fix that, and his new book tells their tale with stories and pictures from his voluminous collection of memorabilia.
The book, "George Elford and the Story of the Dover Basketeers," published in January, was a longtime effort. “It really took 25 years to put together,” Maurer said. “It was something I’ve wanted to do since about 1992.”
In that year Maurer left his then-home in Columbus, where he was a teacher, and moved back to Dover.
“As I would talk to people,” he said, ”I found myself answering the same kinds of questions again and again, telling the stories that people seemed to want to hear. I realized I wanted to get the stories down and correct some misconceptions about the Basketeers. I wanted to get the facts straight.”
He found encouragement from Bill Shryock, who ended up as graphic designer for the illustration-heavy book. “This would not be the book it is without that collaboration,” Maurer said.
The Dover Basketeers were formed in 1955 by George Elford, who coached elementary school students in Dover. He noticed some of the boys were imitating the moves of the famous Harlem Globetrotters and had the idea of forming a small group to do a halftime show for high school basketball games. Elford chose the kids he wanted, limiting the players to grade 6-8.
“So every year the team changed as kids dropped out of that age range,” Maurer said. “But even though the kids changed, the routines never did, and the show was always kept to high standards. There were no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ years.”
Visiting teams began to request the Basketeers for their own halftime shows, and their fame spread, eventually branching out into West Virginia, other parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Maurer joined the Dover Basketeers in 1959 and remained until the 1961-62 school year. “And that happened to be the time when we really hit the peak of fame. It was a lucky time to be a part of it.”
The boys were invited by the coach of the 1960 Olympic basketball team to accompany them as the halftime show for exhibition games. The Basketeers performed with the team in New York City before the team left the country for the Olympics in Rome.
“We were suddenly hot,” Maurer said. "Everyone wanted us for their shows. We were traveling all over the country. We performed in St. Louis for the championship game, and that’s when Jerry Lewis saw us on television.”
Lewis phoned Elford and asked if it would be possible for the boys to appear with him in an upcoming film, "The Errand Boy."
“And we were off to Hollywood, just like that,” Maurer said.
Maurer’s book details the history of the Basketeers with many photos, anecdotes and inside stories including how the Basketeers were dissolved in 1962.
This is the point at which Shryock enters the tale firsthand.
“We used to watch the Basketeers practice at Memorial Hall in Dover,” Shryock said. “We were the hopefuls. One day coach Elford asked if he could see another boy and I do some dribbling up and down the court. We did and waited to learn if we had been chosen for the new team. Then came the announcement that the Basketeers were being disbanded. I was that close to possibly being a part of it, and it was a big disappointment.”
In 1994 Maurer arranged a reunion of the Dover Basketeers with Elford’s blessing. Over time Maurer collected stories, spent plenty of time with Elford and finally became serious about finishing the book in late 2016. From that point it became the focus of both his and Shryock’s spare time.
The book is available at the Dover Public Library, the Reeves Home and Museum on Iron Avenue, Dumont Sporting Goods on North Tuscarawas Avenue or directly from Maurer at P.O. Box 272, Dover. The book is $16.95 plus $3 shipping if ordered directly.
Maurer said his time with the Basketeers echoed through the rest of his life. “I learned that if you work hard, good things will happen. I’ve always lived by that.”

Published: February 23, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180229991