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Babe Artus

Sport: Basketball & Baseball

Born: November 20, 1898

Died: June 11, 1984

Town: Paterson

George Charles Jacob Artus was born November 20, 1898 in Paterson. George’s hometown was a hoops hotbed in the pioneer days of basketball. Quick, aggressive and solidly built, he was well-suited for the rough-and-tumble game of that time, when suffocating defense and rebounding made the difference in low-scoring contests. A talented all-around athlete, Babe played semipro baseball during the late teens and early ’20s. He did well enough to earn minor-league deals as a power-hitting catcher and first baseman, playing five years between 1923 and 1928 at the B, C and D levels. Somewhere along the line, he acquired the nickname “Babe.”

Babe Artus stood 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds by his late teens. He was known for his physical defense and for never backing away from a fight. He was also an accomplished passer and was good for two or three baskets a game. Babe turned pro in 1920 with his hometown team, which was led by Howard Cann—arguably the top player in the country at the time. He was recruited in 1920–21 by Pop Morgenweck to play for the Kingston Colonials of the New York State League, where he joined fellow New Jerseyans Carl Husta and Benny Borgmann on a powerhouse squad. Babe also played for the Brooklyn Visitations of the Metropolitan League in 1921–22, pulling double duty as many pros did at the time. Brooklyn’s young center that season was Joe Lapchick, who would soon distinguish himself as the game’s top big man.

Babe found steady employment on some of the top teams of the 1920s, including the Philadelphia SPHAs and Warriors, Amsterdam Flashes and Rochester Centrals. He also suited up for Paterson’s pro teams no fewer than six more times. Babe often played for his de facto mentor, Pop Morgenweck. Babe’s final year as a full-time player was 1932–33 playing for clubs in Bridgeton and Philadelphia.

Babe lived and worked in New Jersey and Pennsylvania after his playing days and lived to 85. He passed away in Lancaster, PA.

 

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