Green White returned to play in the First Division in 1961, a step down from the highs of 1960. The season was a bit of a struggle.
Thanks to a few defections (the Kaempf brothers), a few injuries (Albin Schwarz, John Benedek, and Toni Zimmer), a few semi-retirements (many of the original members were no longer playing), and a very full roster of indoor, outdoor, and tournament games on the schedule, no fewer than forty five different players wore the Green White uniform in 1961. It was probably the largest number of players for Green White in any individual season.
Horst Melcher kept a list of all the players who played for Green White that season in the "Kasse Handbuch", and in addition to the players listed above, the following players were all listed as "active players" for at least a portion of the 1961 schedule: Han Bittenbinder, Samuel Berleth, Adolf Burger, Johnny & Willi Becker, John Benedek, Dietrich Ditmar, Joe Hertl, Anton Hohn, Adolf Hrabowy, Rudi Hrbacek, Eckhard Kaempfer, Klaus Kilian, Jacki Lorenz, Horst Melcher, Josef Mellert, Walter Mimler, Martin Mayer, George Polaretzky, Joe Schlenhardt, Hans Schmidt, Cartsten Schnepel, Gottfried Schwarzinger, Eduard Speth, Michael Weiss, Gottfried Winter, Josef Fessel, Goetz Nickel, John Vassiles, Gus Lampies, Erwin Mark, Soltan Stojkovic, Fred Ott, John & Michael Lepprich, Toni Rauscher, John Gebhardt, and Alfred Leufelder.
Despite their struggles, Green White put up a strong fight. Willi Franz remembered it this way: "All of the members hoped for a turn around, and a return to the Major Division, but Green White could only attain second place, and that wasn’t quite good enough to move back up. But we can say with pride that Green White played with the fighting spirit of one of the best, and the spectators often referred to our games as the game of the day."
1961 was a year of highs and lows. The team traveled together to play in places like Peoria, St. Joseph, Michigan, and Hamilton, Ontario, and those trips were among the highlights of the year.
"Those trips were so much fun," Adam Harjung remembers. "We all had a great time."
But in August, tragedy also touched the Green White family.
“My little brother died of leukemia died in 1961," Klaus Kilian remembers. "He was only 14 at the time, and had only been in this country for five years. He played for the Green White kids team, and it was a very sad time for all of us.”
Green White Off the Field
A new president took the helm of Green White in 1961. Matz Kraemer (shown here with his wife Joann) had been one of Green White's founders in 1956, and had served in several capacities in previous years before agreeing to become the president.
He presided over a Green White board that included some of the players listed above, in addition to Peter Erhardt, Anton Wagner, Martin Rutterschmidt, Walter Klaus, Adam Harjung, Fritz Herbstlek, Josef Hrbacek, George Kovasc, Henirich Wittje, Hans Bauer and Fritz Becker.
Wedding Bells are ringing
The Kraemers (shown above) were married in 1961, but they weren't the only ones.
Franz and Gertrude Stadler (left) also walked down the aisle that year.
Many more Green White couples would follow in the coming years.
Green White Babies born in 1961
*Future player Frank Speth (photo)
*Future player John Dunkas
*Gretchen Bittenbinder (daughter of long-time member Hans)
*Michael Hrbacek (son of star player Rudi)
In Pop Culture
~The Academy Award for Best Picture went to “West Side Story”
~The #1 pop hit of the year was “Tossin’ and Turnin’” by Bobby Lewis
~The #1 TV show of the year was “Wagon Train”
Elsewhere in Chicago
~McDonald's first filed for a U.S. trademark on the name McDonald's on May 4, 1961, with the description "Drive-In Restaurant Services". In the same year, they retired their mascot, "Speedy".
~The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup (April 16, 1961). Among the star players on that team; Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Pierre Pilote and goalie Glenn Hall.
~The Dan Ryan Expressway opened to 95th Street.
~A Chicago television institution, Bozo’s Circus, debuted on Channel 9, WGN.
Coming next month: 1962. Green White tries again to return to the Major Division, the World Cup is held in Chile, and two institutions are built in Chicago.
As always, if you have any thing to add or correct in this month’s installment, please drop me a line at email@example.com. I consider this a group project, and a work in progress, so we can add and subtract until we get it all exactly correct. If you have photos you’d like to contribute, please do.