Sandburg's Hometown

March 30, 2015

Charlie(Carl) Sandburg, pictured in the second row, second on the right, held the title of Captain of his Lombard College Basketball Team
Charlie(Carl) Sandburg, pictured in the second row, second on the right, held the title of Captain of his Lombard College Basketball Team

Basket Ball

by Barbara Schock

As a freshman at Lombard College Carl Sandburg joined the basketball team. On a Saturday night in January 1899, he had helped his team beat the Knox College team by 16 to 12. The local newspaper reported Sandburg was good at goal throwing.

As a child, Sandburg had played “Duck-on-a-Rock” on East Berrien Street. The duck is a small rock which is placed on a larger rock. The player uses a stick to knock the small rock off the large rock. Then he has to run to pick up his rock and get back to the base rock before another player can tag him. If a player chooses not to pick up his rock, he can pick up another player's rock and run to the base. If caught, the player is “It” and his rock becomes the new Duck-on-a-Rock. It is somewhat reminiscent of the English game of cricket. Perhaps playing the game, with its emphasis on running, helped Sandburg develop his skills for basketball.

The game of basket ball, as it was originally called, had been invented by James Naismith in 1892. He was a physical education instructor at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts. He called his new game basket-football. His purpose was to provide strenuous exercise for his students during the winter.

There were only thirteen rules in the game with nine men on each side. The players had to be reminded there was no tackling in the game. A soccer ball was used and was thrown into a peach basket nailed to the railing of the gallery above the playing floor. The game had to stop when the ball went into the basket. The janitor climbed a ladder to retrieve the ball. Later, a backboard was attached to the railing of the gallery so opposing fans couldn't knock the ball away from the basket. A small hole was put in the peach basket so a stick could be used to push the ball up and out of the basket. Some of the players thought it was a silly game.

The first game was played on March 11, 1892. Two hundred spectators watched the game. The faculty played a team of students and were beaten five to one. The only faculty player to score a basket was Amos Alonzo Stagg. He later coached football at the University of Chicago.

Improvements to the game developed fairly quickly. By 1896 five-man teams were the rule. The metal hoop with a net was added in 1906.The YMCA had a major role in spreading the game around the world. Colleges started teams and formed conferences to regulate the sport. During World War I American troops took the game to France where it became popular.

Various associations were formed to supervise the rules of basketball. By 1936 basketball had become an Olympic medal sport. Professional teams began to be established and were organized into the National Basketball Association in 1949.

The sport has become a billion dollar business. One wonders what Carl Sandburg, or for that matter, James Naismith would have made of “March Madness.”


Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
March 30, 2015 Basket Ball
March 23, 2015 The Courthouse of Knox County, IL
March 16, 2015

“Trifles make perfection...”

March 9, 2015 Uncle Tom's Cabin
March 2, 2015 Martha Sandburg Goldstone
February 23, 2015 Devotion
February 16, 2015  Gumbiner's Pawn Shop 
February 9, 2015 White Bread
February 2, 2015 The Monarch Club
January 26, 2015 The Silver Dollar
January 19, 2015 The Fulton County Narrow Gauge Railway
January 12, 2015 The Four Corners
December 22, 2014 Swedish Christmas
December 8, 2014 Christmas 1878
December 1, 2014 Bunker Boots & Shoes
November 24, 2014 Galesburg, Illinois
November 17, 2014 It was Buffalo Bill's Day
November 10, 2014 The Election of 1896 (A follow-up story)
November 3, 2014 The Election of 1896 (continued)
October 27, 2014 The Election of 1896
October  24, 2014 The Rissywarn
October 20, 2014 The Parlor Stove
October 13, 2014 Ashes to Ashes
October 6, 2014 Jesse James
Sept. 29, 2014 Lester T. Stone, Public Servant
Sept. 22, 2014 It's Who You Know
Sept 15, 2014 Mother of the Illinois Flag
Sept 8, 2014 The Scissors Grinder
Sept 1, 2014 Baseball
August 25, 2014 Howard K. Knowles, Capitalist
August 18, 2014  Alcoholic Beverages
August 11, 2014 Soda Water
August 4, 2014 Sweet Corn
July 28, 2014 Marching Through Georgia
July 21, 2014 The Knox County Fair
July 14, 2014 The Panic of 1893
July 7, 2014 The Rev. T. N. Hasselquist
June 30, 2014 The Knox County Courthouse
June 23, 2014 The Family Photograph Album
June 16, 2014 Parades
June 9, 2014 Lingonberries
June 2, 2014 Where We Live
May 26, 2014 Old Main
May 19, 2014 Rhythms of the Railroad
May 12, 2014 Spring Tonic
May 5, 2014 The Milkmen
April 28, 2014 Gray's "Elegy..."
April 21, 2014 Off to War
April 14, 2014 Swedish Easter
April 7, 2014 A Father's Face
March 31, 2014 Secret Societies
March 24, 2014 George A. Murdock, Merchant
March 10, 2014 Trade Cards
March 3, 2014 The Demorest Medal
February 24, 2014 Rip Van Winkle
February 17, 2014 Cabbage Soup
February 10, 2014 Lincoln's Birthday
February 3, 2014 4  The Colonel
January 27, 2014 The Lincoln Penny - A Little History
January 20, 2014 Walking to Work
January 13, 2014  A Small Abode
January 6, 2014 Birth of a Poet
December 30, 2013 Christmas 1880
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013 Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013 Lace Curtains
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity