Former Sunbury Mercuries star has died
MIAMI (AP) – Former Sunbury Mercury player and Hall of Fame basketball coach, Jack Ramsay has died. Known as “Dr. Jack,” Ramsay, he coached in the NBA for parts of 21 seasons, including leading Portland to the 1977 NBA title. He had battled cancer for many years and died at the age of 89.
The former Hall of Famer also played and coached for the Sunbury Mercuries. The Mercuries were part of the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League from 1947 to 1971. Former Northumberland County Commissioner Sam Dietrick has many stories to tell about the Mercuries, since his father Dr. George Dietrick was one of the team’s top supporters.
Sam explained how the team got its name, “The Mercuries basically got their name because Mr. Smith, from the old Sunbury Lincoln Mercury Dealership paid for the uniforms for the team. Bob Egan, who also was in the car business, and my dad and some other people invested money to get some real good players from the Philadelphia area and that’s what got it started.”
One of those players from Philadelphia was Jack Ramsay. The former Portland Trailblazers coach and Hall of Famer played and coached for the Sunbury Mercuries. The Mercuries were part of the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League from 1947 to 1971.
Dietrick said, “The league was basically a lot of the coal towns. It had a number of teams including Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, Reading and of course Sunbury. They drew mostly from the Philadelphia college players. Jack Ramsay was one. An awful lot of them came up.”
Dietrick said he wasn’t alive when Ramsay was playing, but he was a real gentleman and he got to meet him at a retirement dinner for Daily Item sports writer Bill Toland, who covered Jack Ramsay’s career. You can hear more about Jack Ramsay on the Steve Jones Show today on WKOK from 3 to 5 p.m. (Ali Stevens)