Windy City League (1937-1941)
Italic textWindy City League, an amateur basketball league in Chicago that was founded in the fall of 1936 and ended in the late spring of 1941. This was the second Chicago city league to use the name. An earlier completely different circuit of the same name lasted for one season, 1931-32 (see Windy City League (1931-32). The second Windy City League became the premier AAU basketball league in the city.
In the fall of 1936, the Windy City League came together with ambitious schedule and sponsoring both men’s competition and women’s competition. Eight men’s teams were initial members and unknown number of women’s teams. The league included an African American team, the Collegians, who had played the previous two years as the Olde Tymers. The names of the team reflected local business and local individual sponsors, such as the Rival Dog Foods and the Luciana Owl Indians.
The league conducted a complicated system of determining the annual champions, awarding a first half title, a second half title, and then a playoff between the first two teams in each half. The first year’s champ was the Representatives Petrones team.
In the first year of the league, most games were played in the St. Philips High School gymnasium on the city’s west side, usually twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A typical evening program included three games, two men’s with the women starting out the night with the first preliminary game.
In the second season, 1937-1938, saw only two teams retained from the first year, the Collegians and the Represenative Petrones, with six newcomers. Most of the games were now played at another west side facility, the Park Casino, at Hamlin and Madison. The Collegians won the second season, and with the championship earned a trip to the AAU national tournament in Denver. Newcomer Frankie Harmon’s Demons, a team that started out as the DePaul University team, won the Central AAU basketball championship that year.
The third year of the league, 1938-1939, the Windy City League was divided into two divisions, the American League and the National League, of four teams each. Most of the games were again held at the Park Casino. This further complicated the playoff system by factoring in each division winner plus first and second half winners. That season saw the Frankie Harmon’s Demons win the Windy City title, a team that started out as the DePaul University team. At the Central AAU championship, the Bill Rand Girls beat the Taylor Trunks, for what was called the “Windy City League girls’ title,” but was probably also representing the Central AAU women’s championship.
In 1939, the Windy City League added a new franchise, the LaSalle Cavaliers, who were led by Captain Ray Meyer, and included some other former Notre Dame players, as well as 6’5’’ center Art Anderson from Augustana.
The league added a new wrinkle in the 1940-1941 season by conducting a 16-team pre-season tournament to select the eight teams that would make up the league’s circuit for the season. Some league games were now conducted as preliminary contests prior to Chicago Bruins games, as well as at the St. Philips gym. Two African-American teams were a part of the circuit, the Bronzeville Merchants and the Palmer House Panthers.
The Windy City League expired in 1941, but a new circuit arose from its ashes, the Metropolitan Athletic Association Basketball League, which picked up some Windy City League teams from the previous year, notably the Bronzeville Merchants, which won the Metropolitan League title.
- Representative Pretrones, League Champion
Rival Dog Foods
Luciana Owl Indians
Magic Chefs (Harvey)
- Collegians, League Champion
Frankie Harmon Demons
Maclejewski’s Cicero Merchants
Abe Morovitz’s Chicago Hebrews
- Frankie Harmon Demons, League Champion
Abe Morovitz’s Chicago Hebrews
- Doc Masons, League Champion
- Pepsi-Colas, League Champion
Palmer House Panthers
East Chicago Forests
Richey Graham Shyrons
1941-42 Metropolitan Amateur Association Basketball League
- Bronzeville Merchants
Senator Daley’s Hamburgers
Women Member Teams
- Bill Rand Girls (1939 league champion)