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Pep Saul

Sport: Basketball

Born: February 16, 1924

Town: Oradell, New Jersey

Franklin Benjamin Saul Jr. was born February 16, 1924 in West Orange. A big, coordinated, athlete, he excelled in several sports as a boy and acquired the nickname “Pep” for his tenacity and hustle. At Holy Trinity and then Seton Hall Prep, Pep was the star of the baseball and basketball teams in the early 1940s. Another star of the team was center Moose Miller, who went on to participate in the first NBA game.

Because of wartime shortages, Pep was allowed to play varsity ball as a freshman in 1942–43. After three years in the military, he returned for the 1946–47 season. The 1947 squad was nicknamed The Five Midgets because none of the starters stood taller than 6'3". Coach Bob Davies—a Seton Hall legend from the 1930s—coached a team that starred Pep, Bobby Wanzer and Whitey Macknowski. All three would go on to play pro ball. The Pirates won their first 18 games and finished 24–3. Pep captain the basketball team in 1948–49 and finished his college career with 1,011, becoming the first player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

Saul was the 12th player taken in the 1949 NBA Draft. He joined the Rochester Royals, joining Bob Davies in the backcourt. He was a key player in the team’s 1951 championship. Pep began the 1951–52 season with the Baltimore Bullets, who sold him to the Minneapolis Lakers after 39 games. Pep averaged around 10 points a game for the Lakers the rest of the way, and again played an important role in a championship, as George Mikan led Minneapolis to the NBA title. Pep thus became the first player in NBA history to win consecutive championships on two different teams.

Pep played three more seasons with the Lakers, winning two more championships. He stayed in Minnesota during the off-seasons, often playing semipro baseball. He retired after the 1954–55 season at the age of 31. After his playing days, Pep got into the insurance business and moved back to New Jersey in Essex County.


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