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Globe Refiners Olympic Gold Medal Basketball Team
121 E. Marlin St.
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About this Exploration:
The 1936 Olympic games were memorable for a number of
reasons. The games were hosted by Germany, and the juxtaposition of Nazi leader
Adolph Hitler and gold medal winner Jesse Owens are some of the Olympics most
memorable images. The 1936 games were the first to be
broadcast on television.
The 1936 Olympic games were also the first year that basketball was included in the games. The United States beat Canada to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal in the sport.
Kansas is often seen as the birthplace of basketball with Dr. James Naismith’s association with the University of Kansas. It’s no surprise then that seven of the 14 members of the 1936 men’s basketball team were from Kansas. In fact they were all employed by the Globe Refinery in McPherson, KS and played on its semi-pro team, the Globe Refiners, from 1934-1936.
The Refiners home court was at the Community Building – originally
called Convention Hall. An exhibit
in the lobby, created by the McPherson Rotary Club, details the team’s path to
gold at the 1936 Olympic Games and is available for public viewing. The
McPherson Museum also has an exhibit of Refiner memorabilia. There is a plaque
at McPherson High School commemorating the 50th anniversary of the
According to the lobby exhibit, the Globe Refiners won the AAU Missouri
Valley League Championship and played the Hollywood Universal team for the
national championship. Later, seven Globe Refiners players and seven Hollywood
Universal players were selected for the 1936 United States Olympic Basketball
Team. Because international rules limited the team to seven players, the U.S.
team was divided into a Globe Refiners unit and a Hollywood Universal
unit. The Globe Refiners unit
ended up playing the championship game, defeating Canada for the first-ever
Olympic Gold Medal in basketball.
The Refiner’s story is a shining moment in a long history of Kansas basketball that continues today. It continues to be a source of pride for McPherson County residents, whose early introduction to basketball is said to be the cause of the strong community support for the local high school basketball programs which have produced several state championship teams for both boys and girls.
The community building is open by appointment. Call the CVB at 620.241.3340.
306 N. Main St.
McPherson, KS 67460