They Call Me Big House

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Big House. For nearly half a century in college basketball circles, no other introduction was necessary. Clarence E. "Big House" Gaines became head coach at Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1946. He was not just the head basketball coach. He was the head coach. Period. He coached every sport the school offered -- football, basketball, track, tennis, boxing. He taught in the classroom, too, And all for $2,400 a year. He slept in the men's dormitory and ate discounted meals in the cafeteria. How good were his ...
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2004 Hardcover New 0895873036. Hardback Autobiography 1st. Ed. New/New (Never Read); 59468.

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Overview

Big House. For nearly half a century in college basketball circles, no other introduction was necessary. Clarence E. "Big House" Gaines became head coach at Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1946. He was not just the head basketball coach. He was the head coach. Period. He coached every sport the school offered -- football, basketball, track, tennis, boxing. He taught in the classroom, too, And all for $2,400 a year. He slept in the men's dormitory and ate discounted meals in the cafeteria. How good were his teams in those early days? About as good as you'd expect at a predominantly women's college whose cupboard of male athletes was bare immediately after World War II.

In this book, Gaines tells how he cut his duties back to athletic director and basketball coach and began recruiting athletes in his native Midwest, then on the inner-city playgrounds of the Northeast. For a time, he and his fellow coaches at small black colleges had their pick of black players, who were welcomed at white universities only in small numbers, if at all. Upon arriving in North Carolina, those big-city athletes experienced the culture shock that was the segregated South. But Gaines managed to turn his players' limited opportunities to their advantage. He made them understand that if they came from poor backgrounds, and that if the NBA was closed to blacks, then they'd better make sure they learned a profession and prepared themselves to make their way in the world. At the insistence of their six-foot-five, 265-pound coach, the great majority of them did exactly that.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Professional sports, the clich goes, are plagued by spoiled superstars, billionaire owners and fans who feel priced out of the games they love. That's why Gaines's autobiography is so refreshing. The coach of little Winston-Salem State in North Carolina is a basketball legend, having racked up 828 wins while running his team between 1946 and 1993, putting him fifth on the all-time college win list. He's won national championships and mentored future NBA stars like Earl "The Pearl" Monroe. But his book's real engine is the social narrative that surrounds the basketball court. The story of being a black coach helming a team through years when colored bathrooms still existed and black and white teams were banned from competing against one another is fascinating. "Today's sports stars believe being welcomed into expensive restaurants and high-class hotels is just part of the benefits of being a good ballplayer," Gaines writes. "The young men I coached in the '40s, '50s, and '60s knew better." He meshes sporting memories with charming personal vignettes of growing up in Paducah, Ky., with a father who cooked for local hotels and a mother who ran the household of a white family. It's a weighty reminiscence, a bit sprawling and unfocused. And while the writing style is unadorned, it works. Like the book's subject, it's amiable, unpretentious and winning. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
College basketball disciples speak the names Dean Smith, Lute Olson, and Jim Phelan with reverence. They, along with a few other hardwood gods, like Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski, are worshipped for their high number of career wins. One peer who never gets talked about in the trivia breaks of televised sports is Clarence Gaines, of Winston-Salem University. As the only black coach on the list for years, he was often treated-as if in a footnote. But his autobiography reveals an astute and stoic coach, cognizant of the importance of sports in the larger context of life. Gaines is actually humble, decent, affable, and kind, so his book is remarkably unaffected and smooth. He doesn't need to fake it, as do lots of retired coaches. Gaines's approach and mastery of the game come through as well, and the reader is treated to genuine insight and a probative history of the game rather than bland coaching aphorisms. An interesting story of a brilliant coach, of sports and men in the segregated South, and of pure basketball. Highly recommended for all collections.-James Miller, Springfield Coll., MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895873033
  • Publisher: Blair, John F. Publisher
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Chapter 1 Crossing Over to the White Side 3
Chapter 2 The Best Raising a Boy Could Have 17
Chapter 3 Morgan State College Builds a Boy into a Big House 41
Chapter 4 I Come to Winston-Salem 59
Chapter 5 The Big House Era Begins Slowly 69
Chapter 6 Coach John McLendon Changes the Way Basketball Is Played 83
Chapter 7 Recruiting Northeastern Players Begins in Earnest 97
Chapter 8 A Northern Scandal Sends Black Recruits South 113
Chapter 9 The Team Starts to Jell 125
Chapter 10 I Get My First Superstar 140
Chapter 11 White People Discover Black Basketball 161
Chapter 12 How I Trained Winners at Basketball and Life 173
Chapter 13 Taking Stock During the Golden Years of the Early 1960s 185
Chapter 14 I Stumble onto Earl Monroe 203
Chapter 15 Our Championship Season 221
Chapter 16 The 1970s--Black Players Cross Over to White Universities 237
Chapter 17 The 1980s and 1990s--The End of My Era 261
Chapter 18 What I Learned from Coaching 277
Chapter 19 What College Basketball Needs to Do 289
Acknowledgments 299
Index 301
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2005

    Big House is a Great Man

    Clarence 'Big House' Gaines should be commended on a job well done. He was instrumental in assisting countless youth in attaining college degrees which is an absolute necessity as well as assisting them in their athletic careers. Many young men with unknown futures went to Winston Salem State University and it was the Big House that helped by guiding these young men (and women) and assisting them. I know because he tremendously helped my son when he was a student there and secondly, he is my 'HOMEBOY'. OUR ROOTS BEGAN IN PADUCAH, KY. I admire him for his pursuit in the education and athletic fields. Excellent memoir!!! One of the best books especially for young men who want a career in sports.He was the one that put WSSU on the map so coaches and players should definitely read this book. Congrats to the HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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