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Mamie Lynch a member of history-making team

In 1950, Mamie Lynch, now a Pagosa Springs resident, began playing on a basketball team that had already been making history for 14 years — the All American Red Heads.

The team was similar to the Harlem Globetrotters — a women’s entertainment team that played men’s teams, using men’s rules — and was in existence from 1936 until 1986.

According to the team’s website, they beat the men’s teams about 80 percent of the time.

Now, that team is making history again by being the first women’s basketball team inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (named after the game’s inventor, James Naismith) this September.

The Hall of Fame is located in Springfield, Mass., near where Naismith first introduced the new game to his P.E. class of 18 men at the YMCA International Training School on Dec. 21, 1891.

According to a press release from the hall, the team was the first professional women’s basketball team.

“The All American Red Heads are known as the female version of the Harlem Globetrotters and the first women’s professional basketball team. The team regularly played more than 200 games per season, winning 70 percent of them while touring thousands of miles reaching 49 states, Canada and the Philippines. Over six decades (1936 to 1986), the team broke social barriers and stereotypes playing in small towns and rural hamlets, as well as Madison Square Garden and Chicago Stadium,” the press release stated.

The Red Heads are one of 12 in the class of 2012 to be inducted into the hall — an honor that requires 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the hall.

The group will be inducted on Friday, Sept. 7.

Part of that history-making team is Lynch.

Lynch began playing with the Red Heads in 1950, when she was a senior in high school, and played for the team during the 1951 and 1952 seasons.

“I think it’s pretty good recognition of the team as a whole,” Lynch said of the honor.

For Lynch, being on the team was a first foray into the real world, traveling, being on her own and playing the game she loved as part of the seven-member team.

“Every day was a beautiful memory, really, because I was a little girl from Arkansas who had hardly been on my own,” Lynch said.

Lynch said she will probably not be able to make the ceremony to see the induction.

Lynch said the induction and events surrounding it are pricey ($750 to attend the induction), and with having only played on the team for a few seasons, she feels the prices are too high.

But, there or not, Lynch, along with the rest of the Red Heads, continue to be honored for their part in basketball history.

The Red Heads were inducted in to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1999, and, in 2011, were the Trailblazers of the Game recipients.

randi@pagosasun.com

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