Oct. 31, 1950:

As some people were out trick-or-treating, others were at the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton to witness a different kind of trick and treats: the athletic hi-jinks of the famed Harlem Globetrotters.
Making their first appearance in Scranton, the team was part of a doubleheader of basketball that filled the center with 4,625 people. The Globetrotters took on the New York Celtics, while the Scranton Miners played the Philadelphia SPHAs (South Philadelphia Hebrew Association).


Reece ‘Goose’ Tatum, clown prince of the Globetrotters, “listening in” to steal the signals and playes from the New York Celtics’ during their game at the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton on Oct. 31, 1950. Times-Shamrock Archives

In addition to the Globetrotters, the night had a few more treats for the crowd. William “Pop” Gates returned to Scranton, this time as a Globetrotter after leaving the Miners at the beginning of October 1950. Bob Fowler, a Scranton native, hit the court as part of the Celtics squad. And a film crew from Columbia Pictures was on hand to film the Globetrotters for a piece about the team.
With extraordinary skill and comedic timing, the Globetrotters defeated the Celtics by a score of 72-37. Gates racked up 10 points for the Globetrotters, while Fowler had two points for the Celtics.
The Miners and SPHAs hit the hardwood next, with the Miners winning by a score of 84-68.


Members of the Scranton Miners and the Philadelphia SPHAs wrestle for possession of the ball during their game at the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton on Oct. 31, 1950. Times-Shamrock Archives

A big night of hoops also happened in the Wyoming Valley. The Wilkes-Barre Barons defeated the Syracuse Nationals by a score 91-84 at the Kingston Armory. This was the Barons’ second win against a National Basketball Association team. On Oct. 25, the Barons took down the Rochester Royals with a score of 70-68.
Today, the Nationals and Royals are still a part of the NBA. The Nationals relocated to Philadelphia in 1963, becoming the 76ers. The Royals, through two relocations, finally settled in Sacramento, playing as the Kings.
After hitting the court in Scranton, the Globetrotters played another doubleheader on Nov. 1 in Hershey. The Globetrotters again faced the Celtics, while the second match featured the Philadelphia Warriors (now the Golden State Warriors) and the Wilkes-Barre Barons.
The footage filmed during that Globetrotters game in Scranton was used in the film “The Harlem Globetrotters,” which Columbia Pictures released Oct. 24, 1951. The film – which starred the 1950 Globetrotters, Dorothy Dandridge, Bill Walker, Thomas Gomez, Billy Brown and Angela Clarke – hit screens in Scranton on Jan. 13, 1952, at the Capitol Theater.


Portions of the 1951 film “The Harlem Globetrotters” were filmed during the Oct. 31, 1950 Globetrotters’ game at the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton. The film opened in Scranton at the Capitol Theater on Jan. 13, 1952. Times-Shamrock Archives