A page from the past….. Five Former Eskimos on 1960 Oakland City University Team
1960 Mighty Oaks
Oakland City University 1960 Team – Five members were former Eskimos – Pictured above Row 1 L to R: John Deen, Joe Todrank, Dick Cochren, Bill Slatton, Kenny Gray, Charlie Brauser. Row 2 L to R: Carroll Edrington, Vesper Hill, Gary Orth, Tom Nordhorn, Lawrence Meyer, Gordon Barnett. Former Eskimos highlighted in RED
Gary Orth remembers the words he heard in 1960 at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) pre-tournament banquet in Kansas City. The speaker said, “You’ll remember this 50 years from now.” recounted Orth. He was right.The 1960 Oakland City University basketball men will be feted Saturday night, nearly 50 years after they became the first and only Mighty Oaks team to reach the 32-team NAIA tournament finals.
They will be honored during the 6 p.m. OCU Athletic Hall of Fame banquet in Suhrheinrich Student Center, where Orth, 1990’s basketball player, Stuart Love and 1998 Indiana collegiate cross country champion Krystal Kearby Kunkel will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame electees and 1960 returnees will be introduced between the women’s and men’s games of Saturday’s 1 p.m. basketball doubleheader against Urbana in Johnson Center.
OCU Alumni Relations Director Susan Sullivan said all but one living member of the 1960 Mighty Oaks plan to attend. Kenny Gray and Larry Meyer have passed on, as have head coach Delbert “Chief” Disler and assistant Nick Goble. Tom Nordhorn won’t make the trip from Florida due to health problems.
“That team was a super bunch of guys,” said retired North Gibson Schools Supt Dick Cochren, a freshman that season along with John Deen and current Mighty Oaks coach Charlie Brauser. “All those guys were local, from Plainville and Mount Vernon and places in between. Bill Slatton, Carroll Edrington and Tom Nordhorn had been in military service. Coach Disler (gave them scholarships so they could finish their education.”
Joe Todrank, Gordon Barnett and Vesper Hill also plan to attend Saturday. Team managers Jerry Aydt and Jerry Osman are also expected to attend.
“All the 1960 guys went into various fields, had good careers and impacted lives,” Cochren said. Their impact preceded graduation.
“That team helped me grow,” Brauser said.
“Most of the guys were three years older. We were a group that listened, due to our respect for Mr. Disler. When he told us something, we knew we’d better do it.”
Orth, a senior that season, remembers the 1960 Mighty Oaks as “a group that felt we could win them all. We won 19 games.
“We were very excited to go to Kansas City. After getting a first-round bye out there, we played Wofford, which was seeded eighth. They beat us 86-85 in double-overtime.”
Brauser remembers Todrank, enshrined in the OCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003, as “a great guard who pretty well ran the club out front. Orth and Barnett were our two big guys — Gary stood 6-foot-6 and Gordon 6-5 and they were both rock solid. “
Gray at guard and Nordhorn at forward completed the starting lineup.
“I kid Joe Todrank that I spent my entire freshman year chasing him around in practice,” Cochren said.
“We had a lot of fun and learned a lot from the older guys. Bill Slatton and Tom Nordhorn were six years older than Charlie, John Deen and I.”