The KU Athletic Department retired the numbers of Paul Endacott and Charlie Black in a halftime ceremony during the Kansas-Nebraska game Saturday and plans to retire five more throughout the season.
Fans in a packed Allen Fieldhouse honored the two greats with a standing ovation as KU Athletic Director Bob Frederick displayed the banners that will hang from the rafters at the fieldhouse's south end.
Frederick also presented Endacott a jersey with his number, 12, on it. Black's daughter and grandson received Black's jersey, number 8, in honor of the former star, who died in 1988.
Both Black and Endacott played in the early 1920s for coach Phog Allen, and both received the Helms Foundation National Player of the Year award their senior seasons Endacott in 1923 and Black a year later.
Allen once called Endacott the best player he had ever coached.
"I don't know about that," Endacott said after the ceremonies. "I don't think that title should apply to me."
Endacott, a graduate of Lawrence High School, was captain of the team his senior year when the Jayhawks posted a 17-1 record and won the conference title. He remembers the Missouri game in Columbia as the most important game that season. KU had lost five out of the six previous games to the Tigers.
"Phog was determined that we would win," Endacott said. "If we hadn't pulled that one out, Phog Allen would have quit. I didn't know that at the time, but his wife told me years later."
KU won the game 21-19, a score typical score during that period, Endacott said.
"Everything was defense in those days," he said. "Phog admonished all of us that the biggest crime in basketball was to let somebody get behind you."
Black hailed from Alton, Ill., and was captian of the team in 1924 when the Jayhawks won the Helms Foundation national championship. Bonnie Black, his daughter, said her father never gloated about the team's dominance.
"He was a modest athlete," she said. "The stories he would tell us about his teammates had to do more with personal stuff than basketball."
The players from the teams in the early 1920s kept in contact well into their 80s, Black said, and that bond impressed her. Even though they lived in different parts of the country, the camaraderie didn't stop.
Neither did the Jayhawk spirit.
"I'll always consider Kansas my first home," said Black, who now lives in Minneapolis. "I think one of the first lullabies I ever learned was Rock Chalk Jayhawk."
The Kansas University Athletic Department plans to retire the numbers of Danny Manning, Charles Black (a member of the 1942-43 and 1946-47 teams), Clyde Lovellette, B.H. Born and Wilt Chamberlain. The department will also retire the number of KU women's basketball great Lynette Woodard.
Just a coincidence? The retirement of Charlie Black's and Paul Endacott's numbers happened to fall on the day the Nebraska Cornhuskers came to town. Both Endacott and Black have ties to Licoln.
Black coached the Cornhusker basketball team from 1927 to 1932.
Endacott's sons, Donald and Richard, reside and practice law in Lincoln. But both have strong KU ties.
Donald Endacott graduated from KU in 1955 and played for the Jayhawk football team. Richard Endacott graduated in 1960 and played on the freshman basketball team. Richard and Kent Endacott, grandson of Paul Endacott and a 1987 KU graduate, were at the game.
U.S. Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum, R-Kan., also watched the Jayhawks drub the Cornhuskers before attending the Capitol City Letter Carriers Dinner and the Kansas Day banquet in Topeka.
Kassebaum said she was pleased U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., announced his plan to seek re-election to the Senate.
"I am delighted," she said. "It wasn't an easy decision for him, but we need him as a leader in the Senate. He's good at not only keeping Republicans together but also at working on complex legislation."
She also laughed off suggestions from local Republicans that she run for governor in 1994.