The 1952 Trophy’s Triumphant Return to Seattle (and the Thwarting of a Heist…sorta*…)

* Out of respect for the innocent, names have either been changed or withheld. Out of respect for the guilty, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred – with tongue firmly planted in cheek…

The Space Needle decked out in crimson & blue in honor of the watch party.

Monday night, the KU Alumni Association held a watch party at Seattle’s world famous Space Needle for the Jayhawks’ game against Iowa State. The CEO of the Space Needle is a KU grad, so the party was top-notch, with close to 200 alumni enjoying the view, food, drinks, company…and, oh yeah – a 76-72 victory against the Cyclones.


The watch party also featured KU library’s archivist in attendance from Lawrence, who brought with her a variety of memorabilia related to Phog Allen as well as the 1952 championship team – a title that the Jayhawks won in Seattle.


With advance notice, KU BALLS would have gladly contributed additional items to complement & enhance the display, in particular focusing on the 1952 championship team because of its ties to Seattle. Maybe the next visit. Until then, a smattering of items:

Program from the 1952 NCAA tournament.






1952’s final four (it didn’t become the “Final Four” and trademarked by the NCAA until the late ’70s) played in the Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington, and close to 12,000 spectators watched KU’s victory in the championship game.
The Terre Haute Terror shaking Phog’s hand as he checks out of the 1952 title game against St. John’s for the final time.

The evening was going well – spirits were high from dunks, spirits were drunk from drinks.

The largest of the many screens at the top of the Space Needle playing the game. Little did we know that an attempted crime may have been occurring at that. Very. Moment.

Some of the official memorabilia was sitting right next to a variety of giveaway items – stickers, pins, etc.

Official memorabilia, including KU’s championship plaque from 1952.

One individual, browsing the items, mistakenly thought that the 1952 yearbook celebrating the championship season was a freebie to take. So she did.

KU BALLS-owned copy of the program. We had this before the watch party, by the way. No, really! Don’t roll your eyes at me like that – I’m being honest!

Fortunately, the KU BALLS crack security team was also in attendance and – being well-versed in the value of Jayhawk artifacts and their importance to the documentation of Western Civilization – sprang into action and alerted KU’s archivist. The archivist tracked down the (unknowing) would-be-thief, recovered the program, and tragedy was avoided.

KU BALLS curator (left) and security (right) posing with the 1952 trophy, the reward for recovering the absconded program. Okay, not really. And that’s not really Phog Allen in the middle – just a vampire from nearby Forks who happens to look like him.

The rest of the evening went off without a hitch, though KU BALLS felt obligated to keep its watchful eyes on the distinguished memorabilia. KU artifacts can demand a premium on the black market, and it is important to maintain constant vigilance and employ nothing but the most advanced and innovative security precautions.

Lexi, head of the KU BALLS elite canine security squad, maintains close and careful guard over all of its antiquities and is willing to volunteer her services the next time the KU traveling exhibit makes its way to Seattle.

Rock Chalk!

2 replies to “The 1952 Trophy’s Triumphant Return to Seattle (and the Thwarting of a Heist…sorta*…)

  1. Hi- Wanted to let you know I really enjoy your site! I too am a huge KU vintage collector and have many Phog Allen items. One of my favorite scrapbooks I have is of Jack Wolfe’s, which you are related to! Would be glad to send you some pictures of it if you would like.

    1. Hi! Glad you like my site and thanks for reaching out as I’m always interested to connect with other collectors. I would ABSOLUTELY be interested in seeing pics of the scrapbook. Jack Wolfe was my great-uncle, and even though he died in a plane crash long before I was born, my Dad raved about how great of a guy he was. I would love to see pics and you can send them to:

      Thanks again!

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