Peabody alum tied to basketball, civil rights history
Myers family supports bringing people together
When Dick Myers of Peabody signed to play for Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso) in 1965, he had no idea that he would be part of a basketball team that would make history.
Fifty-five years ago, on March 24, 1966, the TWC team made history when it defeated the University of Kentucky for the NCAA national championship with an all-black starting lineup. It was the first time such a thing had happened in the NCAA.
When they won the championship, no one brought out a ladder for them to cut down the net. One of the players hoisted up another player.
The team was not invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, as was customary, but the victory opened the door for more black athletes to be recruited by college coaches.
Myers was a junior on the team. He said sports were a great way to bring people together.
“You learn to appreciate and depend on each other,” he said.
Glory Road, a movie about the 1966 team, was made in 2006.
Myers was a standout student at Peabody. He was a star basketball player in junior high and high school and was on the state championship team in 1963. He was a quarterback in football and led his baseball team in summer.
He also served as a sports reporter and editor, with his reports being published in the Peabody Gazette-Herald, as the local paper was known back then. He also was a pastor’s assistant.
Myers played ball at Hutchinson Junior College for two years, after which he received a two-year full athletic scholarship to Texas Western and played for Don Haskins.
Myers was a forward on the basketball team. The Miners had a 23-1 regular season and went on to the NCAA national tournament. Their first NCAA competition was at Wichita, where they defeated Oklahoma, 89-74.
They played the next two games in Lubbock, Texas, where they defeated Cincinnati in overtime and Kansas in two overtimes.
The final two games were at College Park, Maryland, where they defeated Utah, 85-78, and defeated the Kentucky Wildcats, 72-65, in the championship game.
In his senior year, Myers’ team played again at Wichita University.
The Dec. 22, 1966, issue of the Peabody Gazette Herald gave this report of the game: “Dick Myers, senior on the nationally-rated Texas Western basketball team, was seen by many of his friends Monday night when the Texas Western-Wichita University game was televised. Myers played considerably in the final period, scoring a field goal and a free throw as the Texas team walloped WU by the score of 77-60.”
Myers and his wife live in southern Florida. They recently contributed $5,000 to the George Floyd Promise Fund created by the University of Texas at El Paso to promote diversity training for students and the community.
Growing up in El Paso, their three children were surrounded by a melting pot of nationalities, beliefs, and races, making it easy for them to teach acceptance. They are working for equality in the communities where they live.