CHICAGO (CBS) –Loyola’s race to the Final Four is sparking new interest in the school’s last NCAA basketball title 55 years ago.
For Jerry Harkness, every few steps brings another request for a selfie.
For John Egan, the calls are non-stop.
“I started answering the phone about 9:30 at home,” he said. “That went to 4:30, OK?. Maybe 40, 50 calls.”
Egan and Harkness were two stars of Loyola’s 1963 championship squad, CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports.
The 2018 Ramblers’ march to the Final Four has ignited new appreciation for the only team from the state of Illinois win a NCAA basketball title.
“Many times, I’m the beneficiary of the fact that somebody remembered you did this and you did this for us,” Egan said.
In the championship game, the ’63 Ramblers beat Cincinnati in overtime in dramatic fashion.
“I felt very blessed to be a part of it because I know good things happened to me because of it,” Egan said.
But there were hardships that year.
Loyola coach George Ireland started four black players, breaking an unwritten rule to limit the number of African Americans on the court.
The Ramblers faced hostility.
“All of a sudden they would start throwing things and yelling things at players for no reason,” Egan said.
Coach Ireland said in a 1993 interview: “I said no matter what they call you, just don’t bother with them, but rip the ball off the backboard. Just don’t rebound but tear it off.”
Author Fred Mitchell recalls: “It’s remarkable what happened. The impact that it had, not only on Loyola’s program but college basketball throughout the country. I think it had a major, major impact.”
It was a long time ago but the memories are re-lived today, amid new glory.
“We’re all here in support of them,” said Harkness. Reliving your memories thru these kids. That’s how you do it.”