Sometimes when a new or re-established sports team gets started, fan patience becomes a prerequisite. On a professional level, the 1962 New York Mets come to mind. In 1976 and 1977, the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their first 26 games.
Eventually these teams went on to be much better, including a couple of World Series championships and a Super Bowl title, respectively, and their fans are glad to have them around.
In Oneonta, such was the situation in 1947 at the Oneonta State Teachers College, or STC, as an intercollegiate basketball team was re-established, having been placed in mothballs when the U.S. entered World War II. By now, the male student population had markedly returned to campus, and the female students were probably quite happy about it.
“With the formation of an Athletic Board of Control and Student League approval of a basketball team, State Teachers College yesterday launched its first formal intercollegiate athletic program since 1942,” The Oneonta Star reported Thursday, Oct. 9, 1947.
The year before, the “cage Dragons” were coached by Athletic Director Milon J. Bundy and played an informal schedule. They played in the city’s recreational league and occasionally faced a college team.
For 1947, a 16-game schedule was planned, and the new coach was Assistant Athletic Director Warner Griffin. Additionally, a cheerleading squad was organized under the direction of Miss Esther Morgan.
Practices began in early November, and 30 men tried out for the team. Griffin said after cuts, 15 were selected, nearly all of them war veterans. Consider at the time that Oneonta had 70 male students out of 410.
The games were played at the Oneonta Junior High School. Back then it was on Academy Street, in the area of today’s Lettis Apartments. This was considered to be a good place to play, second best to the state armory, across the street.