Women's Professional Basketball Collection

Value (2013) | $4,000 Insurance

Your mother has had a fascinating life. You have to tell us about her.

Well, she started playing basketball when she was in school and went on to play a lot because there was nothing in Kamrar, Iowa, to do. And so when she graduated, she went to AIB in Des Moines and started playing with Hazel Walker. She was actually drafted-- which the letter says--for the Red Heads, All-American Red Heads. In the off-season, they all had to make money, so Mom, because she was--like, she went for Miss Chicago and things like that--she became a professional model. She just had a double career. And when they got finished modeling, she would go back to playing ball.

What time period is this?

I think it's the late '40s. I know she quit like two years before I was born. And so it went into the early '50s, I think. But she always told us that these were the best years of her life. And she always kept the friends until of course they passed on, and many have.

And when did your mom pass away, what year?


This collection is all from your mother's career as a pro-basketball player and as a model. Your mother was one of the pioneers who laid the foundation for women's sports as we see it today with the WNBA. This is your mom in her Pepsi-Cola outfit when she played in the national tournament. And that brought her attention to the Red Heads, which is the poster we have up here, and there is your mom over there. And this is the letter that Mr. Olsen sent her asking her to join the Red Heads. The Red Heads were formed in 1936, and the Olsens owned a string of beauty salons, so it seemed that you had to have two things going for you: you had to be a great basketball player, and you had to be fabulous looking, and your mom obviously was both. In those days, professional sports for both men and women were not glamorous. They traveled by station wagon. There were only seven on a team. They played more than 200 games a year. Think about that. NBA players play 80 games a year. They traveled all 50 states. Did she have any stories from this period?

Well, of course, all of her friends, they did stay connected and she even taught my son how to play basketball. Actually, she kind of taught him some of the things not to do that you can get away with, like stepping on their foot while they're going up for a jump shot or something.

Of course, for you, it's priceless.

It is.

Archivally, it's fantastic because it gives a glimpse into an era of basketball and women's sports that we don't see. But again, your mom was a pioneer who helped lay the foundation. I would put an insurance value of $4,000 on these pieces.

Oh my goodness, okay. That sounds awesome.

Appraisal Details

Leila Dunbar Appraisals & Consulting, LLC
Washington, DC
Appraised value (2013)
$4,000 Insurance
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)

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