Champions of basketball
November, 3, 2011
By Henry Abbott
The Plain Dealer's Bill Lubinger profiles a Cleveland-area team that has defied all odds: Every player is 80 or older. They call themselves the Oldies but Goodies:
The Oldies' 10-man roster is mainly players from Greater Cleveland, Toledo and Michigan. Teams in the 80-and-over division may cross state lines for players because the pool is limited. Some Oldies played in high school and college. Others never played beyond pick-up games.
Hammeren, who sat out last season with two knee operations, has been on Cutler's team the longest, 17 years. He's 6-3 and still plays full-court a few times a week "with a bunch of young guys in their 60s."
Hammeren drove the lane but missed the layup.
"Oh, [expletive]," he muttered, "like an old man."
Dick Lane, 82, of Livonia, Mich., took a pass, dribbled, tripped and rolled.
"First down!" mocked a teammate.
On his next possession, Lane drove left and banked a beautiful running shot.
The Oldies, by design, are resilient -- and unconventional. In the middle of a play, Hugh Ressler, 85, who showed good ball-handling skills, called timeout when his upper bridge was loose.
"Gotta get rid of my teeth," he said. "About fell out."