NO. 29

Winner's circle

Herm Schaefer won basketball championships with Indiana University and the Minneapolis Lakers

Everywhere he played, Herm Schaefer was a winner.

Schaefer played basketball at Central High School from 1935 to 1937 where he was a teammate of Paul "Curly" Armstrong. Both continued their careers at Indiana University, where Schaefer lettered from 1939 to 1941. During the 1939-1940 season, Schaefer and Armstrong helped IU win its first national championship, beating Kansas 60-42. Schaefer was IU's leading scorer in the tournament.

After being an All-American in 1941, Schaefer was signed by the Fort Wayne Pistons as a player-coach at age 22. He averaged 8.6 points per game as a rookie. Schaefer played four years with the Pistons.

Schaefer's career was interrupted after his first two seasons by a call-up into the Navy. He returned in 1945-46 to score 1.5 points per game, but was in full form in 1946-47 when he averaged 8.2 points per game for the Indianapolis Kautsky's.

But Schaefer's pro career began to thrive when he joined the Minneapolis Lakers in 1947. He averaged 10.4 points per game in 1948-49, helping the Lakers to the Basketball Association of America championship. In 1949-50, he worked primarily as a setup man for George Mikan and Jim Polland, and the Lakers won the first National Basketball Association title.

"I guess you'd call him a point guard today, but back then he was just a guard who brought the ball up and called the plays," Mikan wrote of Schaefer in his autobiography. "Herm played with his head -- he was a smart player."

Schaefer died in Indianapolis on March 20, 1980, at age 61.

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