First Posted: 4/3/2008

OTTAWA — Ottawa-Glandorf boys basketball coach Josh Leslie and five of his Division III state champion players stopped by Putnam Acres Care Center on Thursday to talk hoops with a player whose last high school tipoff was more than 83 years ago. The year was 1925 and 18-year-old Al Dunn was enjoying his senior year at Ottawa public schools. Dunn played center on the school’s basketball team that season and he’ll be the first to tell you about the magic he and his teammates displayed on the court. That 1925 team beat archrivals Leipsic three times that year — once in the county tournament — and all three victories were determined by a single point. Fast forward to Thursday afternoon and Dunn, who is now 101, sat calmly and swapped stories with the team he’s cheered on all year long. As this year’s players looked over old photographs and decades-old statistics, Dunn talked about the game in an era when Calvin Coolidge was president and the Great Depression was still four years away. Some things were different, he said. There was only one practice a week and one basketball used all season long.Bringing the ball inbounds after a basket? That was a thing of the future, he said.“It used to be, after every basket, you had to have a jump ball. That about wore me out,” Dunn said.The story Dunn most enjoyed telling was how his team beat Delphos St. Johns in their second meeting of 1925. Delphos had beaten Ottawa in their first meeting, but Dunn’s team had a trick in mind for the rematch: vulcanized shoe soles.The team had the floor waxed just prior to the game. With Ottawa’s sticky soles, Delphos didn’t have a chance, Dunn said.“We’d dribble right down there and shoot and they’d just keep right on going and slip right by us,” he said. “They weren’t too happy.”When Ottawa-Glandorf was playing its championship game last month, Dunn eagerly watched on television. In fact, his lunch had to be brought to his room. He wasn’t going to miss a minute of the game. It was during the game that Dunn’s nurse, Cherie Newman, decided something had to be done for the team’s No. 1 fan.“After the game, I called the coach and he told me he’d come and that he’d bring the players along with him. Watching Al right now, I can tell he’s absolutely loving this,” she said.When the meeting wrapped up, the players posed for pictures with Dunn and each autographed a team poster for him. Leslie said he was in awe at Dunn’s memory and how basketball had changed so much.“For him to be 101 and still follow our basketball team and still follow our success, it’s a great thing. And he remembers all that stuff over all this time; it’s amazing,” Leslie said.You can comment on this story at  

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