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August 12, 2020

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They played basketball during the 1918 flu epidemic

This Bluffton College men’s basketball team play its games during the 1918 flu epidemic and were not yet called "Beavers."

Front from left, Vernon Ramseyer and Gordon Bixel.

Center, Menno Lehmann, Oliver Kratz (coach) and Donavin Baumgartner, captain

Top, Herbert Gottshall, Ezra  Moser, Harold Guth andAllen Day. Not photographed, the team manager was Wilmer Shelly.

With an 11-6 record, this basketball team doubled the score on Toledo University 30-15, and earlier in the season won 33-21. The team also defeated Wittenberg, Capital, and State Normal College (could that be Bowling Green?) 26-12.

Viewers may recognize at least two of the team members: Gordon Bixel and Ezra Moser.

Here’s what the writer says about Bixel: Watch in close or you’ll lose him. Speed and the ability to shift position marks “Bixie” as a player of high worth. 

Of Moser, the writer says: As a pivot, Moser is no equal. In the majority of games he out-jumped his man, thus giving Bluffton the advantage of the tip-off. 

The 1917-18 school year was the first of regularly coached athletics at Bluffton.