BUCKY LEW MADE BASKETBALL HISTORY
To early fans of the sport, he must have seemed an improbable basketball star –18 years old, a trained violinist and, most disturbing to racists in the audience, African-American.
But none of that stopped Harry Haskell "Bucky" Lew from playing the game – or making history….
"According to my father, he was the best double dribbler he had ever seen," says Gerry O'Connor of Methuen, whose late father, Dan, played on one of Mr. Lew's teams in the 1920s. Mr. Lew was also known as a fine defensive player who routinely guarded the best player on any opposing team.
His talents were not enough to protect him from the taunts of bigots, however.
Once, players from Natick refused to come onto the court until the Haverhill coach removed Mr. Lew from a game. Mr. O'Connor says his father often spoke of the time that some fans jeered Mr. Lew and called out racial slurs during a game with another Massachusetts team.
"After the first quarter, my father went out on the court, called for silence and said that the person they were insulting was the most decent man on the team," the younger Mr. O'Connor recalls. "My father said if there was one more sound for the rest of the game, his team was leaving."
The game continued without incident….
From 1913 to 1925, when Mr. Lew was between the ages of 29 and 42, he was player and general manager for his own Lowell-based teams, the Centrals, Lowell Athletic Association and Lowell Five…
Mr. O'Connor remembers his father talking about how the Lowell Five "had an old car, a Packard, and they'd all pile in and go. There were only five in the group, so you didn't get injured."
Meanwhile, Mr. Lew and his wife, Florence, were also raising their four children – William, Eleanor, Phylis and Frances.
In 1926, Mr. Lew started acting as referee for semi-professional basketball teams in the area, and in 1928, he and his family moved to Springfield, the Massachusetts city that would become the site of the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
He died in Springfield in 1963.
Lawrence Eagle-Tribune February 22, 2001.