Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reitz's First Basketball Sectional Crown

The March 9, 1934 Reitz Mirror annonuced the first Sectional
Championship for the Rietz Basketball team.
 Reitz High School won its first Basketball Sectional Title in March of 1934.  To capture the title, the Panthers had to win 4 games.  In the first round, Reitz faced Chandler High School.  Reitz secured an early lead that it never relinquished.  The final score was 38-17.  In the second game of the tournament, Reitz face Evansville Central High school.  Central was the toughest team in the tournament and had just defeated Bosse High School in their first round game.  Reitz crushed the Central Bears by a score of 27-9.  After Central, Newburg was next on the Panther's list. The Reitz Mirror described Newburg as the "classiest of the out of town teams".  After defeating them by a score of 38-23, Reitz went on to face Elberfeld in the final.  After trailing 9-7 at the end of the first quarter, the panthers came back to post a 42-21 victory, securing the first Basketball Sectional Title in school history.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Piece of History Returns to the Hill

Original section of the 1956 basketball floor from the Large Gym.
A section of basketball court containing the jump circle has returned to Reitz High School.  The piece of floor is approximately 8' square, with a large grey "R" in a blue circle.  The artifact dates from 1956 when the current gym was added to the school.  The jump circle was saved in the mid 1980's when the original floor was replaced.  Immeditely after it's removal, the R was displayed in Mr. Don Henry's health classroom.  For the past 15+ years, it has been in EVSC storage.  Mr. Schmidt's industrial technology class is currently building a frame with plans of displaying it near the gym entrance. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The True Story of Reitz's School Colors

Reitz Mirror Article from Sept. 1924.
Many Reitz Fans know that the original school colors were Purple and Gold, but the reason for the change to Blue and Grey is less widely known.  The reason most often cited is that Reitz gave up Purple and Gold so Lincoln High School, the African American High School, could have them; Blue and Grey was adopted because Reitz sits on the border between the old North and South.  There are several reasons that this is unlikely.  First, Lincoln High School was opened in 1928, three years after Reitz abandoned their original colors. Second, the idea that a white school would give up their school color for an African American school during a time of widespread racism seems very unlikely.  Third, there is no mention in any records of the proximity to the border between the north and south factoring into the discussion for the new colors. 
The change in the school colors is more closely tied to the football team.  In the April 16, 1924 Reitz Mirror, the school newspaper, it was reported that a student forum held a discussion of changing the school colors from Purple and Gold to Blue and Grey.  At that time, no reason was stated for the possible change and no position was taken by the Mirror. 
The following fall, the Mirror of September 19, 1924 stated that “Much talk has been circulated about the school colors being changed.”  It goes on to state that “The football sweater and jerseys (sic) are blue and gray so the colors don’t correspond”.  The Mirror went on to call for a change in the colors of the football uniforms or a change of the school colors.  Students were encouraged to make their appeal to the faculty and Mr. Bosse, the school principal.
The following spring, in June of 1925, The Mirror announced that new football equipment had arrived.   “The sox are solid Blue this year instead of purple and gold,” the Mirror reported.  The article also described the jerseys as being blue with gray stripes and the sleeves with big grey numbers on the back.  
The official change was finally made the follow fall.  As recorded in the 1926 yearbook calendar, on October 19, 1925, the Hi-Y club held its first meeting.  Evidentially a vote was held and the school colors, Blue and Grey, were finally decided upon.
Calendar Entry from the 1926 Reitz Yearbook.
While Reitz giving its school colors to the upstart African American high school is a nice story, and the connection of Blue and Gray to the Civil War may make geographic sense, they both appear to be false.  The real story reinforces what many Reitz fans already know:  football is and always has been very important at Reitz.  The color of the football jerseys ultimately drove the decision to make Blue and Gray the official colors for FJ Reitz High School. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reitz's First Team Captain

Ralph Wood - Football and Basketball
team Captain in 1921-22
Ralph Wood was the first team captain of the Reitz High School football and basketball team.  The son of William Wood, a pottery worker on the west side of Evansville IN, he lived with his family on West Delaware St.  Wood made history on October 4, 1919 when he score the first touchdown ever for Reitz High School.  He scored on a 10 yard end run against Central High School reserve team at the end of the first half.  Reitz went on to win the game 6 - 0 and finish its first season 4 -3.  Only four years later, in 1923, Reitz would win its first city championship.  In 1922, Wood graduated from Reitz.  He worked at Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals for 25 years until his untimely death at the age of 49 on June 10, 1952.  He was survived by his wife Julia. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reitz History Video

F.J. Reitz High School - The Building of a West Side Tradition

Above is a link to a video on the History of Reitz High School that the Feel the History class produced several years ago.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reitz's First Champion

John Alexander - Captain of the
Indiana University Cross
Country team in 1927.
John Alexander was the first state champion in the history of our school and one of our greatest student athletes.  He was outstanding in the classroom as well as in the field of athletics.  John was Vice President of his senior class and served as President of his junior class.  He was also involved in the Hi-Y club, the drama club, the debate team, the forum, and the yearbook.          
As a member of the Wrestling team, the Football team, the Basketball team, and the Track team as well as a competitive swimmer, he was a true multi-sport athlete.  Track is the sport in which John excelled.  He was part of Reitz’s first undefeated sport team in 1922.  In 1923, as a junior he finished 4th at state in the Mile, breaking the previous state record.  In his senior year, 1924, John won state in both the Mile and 880 yard races.  He went on to finish 5th in both events at the National High School Track Meet held in Chicago. 
After high school John went on to run track and cross-country at Indiana University.  He was the captain of the IU cross-country team in 1925-26.  After his days in sports, John became Dr. Alexander.  He graduated from IU medical school and became an established optometrist on the Westside.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reitz Bowl - Football Paradise

The Bowl Under Construction in Sept. 1921
 The idea for the Bowl was born early in the school’s history.  As early as 1918, the Evansville Courier showed plans of a Reitz campus that included stadium seating on the hillside behind the school.  In the summer of 1921 bids were taken by the school board for construction of a retaining wall and seats behind the school.  On September 18, 1921, the Courier reported that ¾ of the work was done.  Contractors W.H. Grammer and Mason Reichert explained that the project was delayed because of shale that had to be blasted during construction.  The original bowl seats were directly behind the school (currently Sections E -H).  The seating area could accommodate 3600 people.  The Courier also noted, “The seats are built large enough that persons who care to take collapsible chairs with them may do so and not interfere with other spectators.”  Seating was added at the opened and closed ends of the Bowl shortly after the original project.  By the 1923 football season, the Bowl as we know it today was completed.