“It is hard to believe it has been 50 years, but it would have been even harder and longer if we had not won that night and had to spend the last 50 years knowing we should have won it,” he said.
Across the way, half of Bryan’s double post offense was reliving the season with former classmates.
“My job was to feed Ricky (6-6 junior Rick Kersey), but when they collapsed on him we were ready for it,” Gene Bauman said. “Rick averaged 22 points (20.4), but we were a team of scorers, someone else would chip in 10, 20.
“Our practices were harder than the games, but Chet Bryan had us ready for anything.”
Bauman continued: “That college back east that fired its coach for being too tough, abusing his players ... heck Chet Bryan did that every day,” Bauman laughed. “But we learned about trust and values and that there was only one reason to do what we did, work as hard as we did, and that was to win.”
Bauman became an Air Force pilot, cargo planes, ferrying supplies into Vietnam (yes, Nam, remember the years we are recalling here. Neverland played a large role in our generation.)
After he left the service he had a highly successful career in air freight in cargo flights in the Los Angeles area and later moved into pet food distribution, growing into the major distributor in Southern Cal.
Now retired, Bauman’s daily view these days is the Pacific Ocean from his home on a half acre near the shore in Laguna Nigel, between San Diego and L.A.
By sports historian Ray Soldan’s count, there were some 2,500 fans there that night for the third evening of championship tournament play on the somewhat rickety portable floor at the Municipal Auditorium in downtown OKC.
Among the Norman supporters was, of course, the Class of ‘63. Many were in attendance 50 years later at the reunion.