By Ralphine Major
It was a good while back that she handed me a big brown envelope. I did not realize at first, but it was full of gems from half a century ago—black and white photographs.
I saw Judy and Les Spitzer recently at Georgia Wright’s 91st birthday celebration. Les’s mother, Faye, was a sister to Georgia, and he even lived with the Wrights when his father’s job transferred the family to Missouri. Judy’s sister, Jane, is Georgia’s daughter-in-law. We visited with the Spitzer family over lunch at Georgia’s birthday celebration. Seeing the Gibbs High School and Carson-Newman basketball standout was another reminder that just days earlier we lost Tommy Everette, another Gibbs and Carson-Newman standout who was a teammate of Spitzer’s.
Les was the jump shot shooter for Bob Dagley’s 1965 Eagles. “I never saw him have a shot blocked,” Dagley told me when I first started the series. The coach should know. He saw every one of those jump shots the team captain made. Eagles’ fans saw them, too. Spitzer’s jump shots made for some exciting moments in basketball.
Rusty Carpenter was a professional photographer who lived in the community and often captured the Eagles on film. “There would be standing room only in the gym,” Rusty once told me. “I remember seeing Spitzer dribble a time or two, cross the center line, and shoot the ball.” It was those plays and more that caught the attention of Carson-Newman coaches, making Les the first scholarship player from the small, rural school.
In this series about the ‘65 amazing Eagles, Spitzer was the first player featured. As the last few segments are being written, here is a look at the jump shot shooter in action helping the team to another win in the 31-2 season. (No. 44)