Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summors Time

It's about 80 degrees out, which makes most folks think of summertime. And when a Gannon fan like me hears the word "summer," I automatically think of Glen Summors, the greatest player in Gannon Hoops history. Check out this picture I received from Joe Mattis, the former Erie Times sportswriter who is also a talented photographer.

Joe sent me this photo in an email a while ago, but I wanted to wait until the season wound down to share it with you so we could enjoy it without pesky games interrupting. Here's Joe's email with some background on this classic photo:

"It has been interesting to see some of the posts on you web site about the best shot blockers in Gannon history. Obviously, you can tell by the lists what time frame those fans began watching the Knights. Yes, John “Shanghai” Matthews is listed in the the Knights' record book for most blocked shots in both a season and career. And many thought he was Gannon's best shot blocker. Obviously, they never saw Glen Summors play. Unfortunately for Summors, blocked shots were not a statistic during his time at Gannon

"Simply stated, Summors (not Summers as some think) was the BEST shot blocker and the BEST player ever to wear a Gannon uniform (Jim Roddy notwithstanding, LOL). And I've been watching Gannon basketball since the 1957-58 season.

"Look at the attachment. It's from a schedule card that was printed for the 1969-70 basketball season. I took that photo during the 1968 Gem City Bowl when Gannon won the title by beating Mount St. Mary's 81-69. The photo shows Summors blocking a layup by Bob Riley in the championship game. Riley was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks and played briefly for them in the NBA. I've taken many photos over the years, but no sports photo was ever better than this one.

"Maybe you can put this on your web site and let the younger Gannon fans who never saw Summors play see the type of player he was."

Thanks, Joe. Have a great summer!


  1. Thanks Joe. Great photo that brings back fond memories.

  2. Bob Riley was 6'9" and 235 lbs

  3. There's more to this story. At a Gannon game this year I was talking to Joe Mattis while watching the game from the standing room section near the south basket. I didn't know Joe. I mentioned I had some old GU photos from the 1960s and 1970s and he said he was looking for a good copy of a Glen Summors photo he took in 1968. As he described it I said I HAVE THAT! In fact, I have a near mint copy (a couple white blotches on Glen's knees where I had long ago pulled off a piece of Scotch tape that inadvertently stuck to it at some point during the past 40 plus years).

    Hard to believe. So Joe showed me his copy that he had in his wallet. It was creased and blotched, in rough shape. I confirmed that, yeah, I have that in a frame in my 'man 'cave.' I see it every day. Joe told me the story of how he came to take that shot on that night in 1968, something long time fans might want to have him recount some time. We made arrangements to get my copy to Joe. He made a digital copy, photo-shopped out the white knee blotches and sent me a beautiful finished copy in an email. Oh yeah, Joe returned by schedule card. An honest man.

    So, it was quite a pleasant surprise to open the Gannon Hoops blog and see 'my' photo. This is one my favorite all time sports photos. Iconic, to me. It was a thrill meet the person who took it, hear the story behind the shot and have a small hand in getting this gem back into Gannon circulation. I think Joe's shot belongs somewhere poster size in the Hammermill Center.

    Also interesting to note the 1969-70 schedule that's printed on the back of that card: Akron, Cleveland St, Niagara, UMass, Catholic, Lehigh, Bellarmine, Tennessee St, San Francisco St, Youngstown, Kentucky Wesleyan and Central Connecticut St. Makes Glen Summors' achievements all the more incredible knowing the level of competition he played against.

    Anyway, thanks Joe!

  4. Very nice comments, Walter. I too remember that photo well. If you never saw Summors play, it gives you an idea of how he could leap, and how tenacious he was near the basket. The player watching, by the way, is Gannon Hall of Famer Larry Daly. As for the schedule, what I wouldn't give to see Gannon play any ONE of those teams today, let alone all of them. Looking at the schedule and then thinking of Gannon's schedules now days makes me sick. What a joke. Thanks again, Walter, for the nice comments, and for your part in restoring Joe's great photo. I agree with Walter that it should most definitely be made into a framed poster and hung in the entrance of the Hammermill Center. I'd like to see the Booster Club make it a project of theirs. How about it, Booster Club? It wouldn't cost that much, and it could easily be done using the jpeg from the photo.

  5. This ought to raise the ire of some Gannon fans. Here's an email I received in response to this post on Glen Summors:

    It is always convenient to wax poetic about something when you don’t have actual numbers to back it up. We have film and numbers on Shanghai Matthews, who is an outlier in the last three decades’ worth of block shots. All we have for Summors is photos and faded memories that only recall the exceptional plays.

    I bet that if we had film on Summors, his blocked shot statistics would be much less than someone would guess. When people ask how many blocks (or turnovers) a player has, the actual statistics are usually less than what they think after having just watched the game, let alone four decades later.

    I am certain that Summors was extremely dominant as a shot blocker, maybe more than Matthews, but it’s easy to hype something when you have no film or numbers. It’s easier for history to become what you want if you have no actual evidence.

    And as an aside, my all-time favorite is when people say “Imagine how many points John Green / Rona Nesbit / Butch Warner / insert-your-favorite-outside-shooter-in-the-pre-three-point-era would have scored if they had the three-pointer?” Well, perhaps less, because teams had much less incentive to defend the outside shot back then because it was worth fewer points. They would have had fewer wide open looks and would have had to work harder to get open. It makes what shooters like Steve Moyer did much more amazing because teams were more actively defending the outside shot.

    1. Had to be there.... I made a point of standing under the basket for many many games during his career.. I watched one night when a Fredonia guard stole the ball from the Gannon guard around half court, a good ten feet from Glen. Glen Summors was below the foul line.
      He took amazingly long strides and the Audi went went wild much to the horror of the Fredonia guard when Glen dove ala the picture and blocked the shot, slamming it off the board. I watched him block a division 1 All Star in the post season all Star game 3 times in a row, finally bouncing the ball off of the top of his head. He ate up all the competition at Division 1 and 2 levels. Saw him toe to toe with Dr. J Was even impressed that Dr. J could jump as high.
      Glen Summors didn't block shots....he blocked sometimes 2 3 or 4 in a row around basket. I
      Moved to Boston the year he graduated and sat court side often.......I knew he was quicker and more athletic than most of the players on the Garden parquet. Glen Summors was so dominating he had double teams all the time and other teams avoided the paint like the plague. Smooth as silk, quick as a cat, jumping through the roof....all without showing any bravado at all. Hey, I was so impressed I wrote a song for him 40 years later "Higher than Dr. J" on my album "Phusian's Back" on iTunes

  6. Just got this in my inbox, too:

    Looking at the schedule card, it was noted "what (I) wouldn't give for a schedule like that today". Of the 11 schools listed, 9 are now Division I; and based on all but 2 of those teams recent records, they probably long for those days, as well.

    Surprised there has not been the typical "you-guys-who-gush-about-Summors-are-just-old" response from some of the "less experienced" posters. Well, yeah, we ARE old. I've only got only two things to add to this conversation:

    1. I never saw Babe Ruth play, but I'm pretty sure he deserves the praise heaped upon him.

    2. Glen Summors had over 1800 points AND 1800 rebounds in his GU career.

    Let the gushing begin.

  7. Regarding the shotblocking abilites of Shanghai vs Summors, despite what the stats may show or not show, in my opinion, Summors had far more ability as a shot blocker and did so against a much stronger level of competition. This is not to say that Shanhai wasn't a good shot blocker, just that Summors was better. He was longer, quicker off his feet, and was a better leaper.

    If you're still wondering about Summors, just go to the GU website or look in the media guide and check the rebounding stats. Summors' career rebound totals are around 600 (that's SIX HUNDRED) rebounds more than any one else. Also, of the top 25 top single game rebounding performances in GU history, Summors has 24 of them, and is tied for 25th with, I believe, James Mitchell.

    Throw in 1,800-some points and that Summors did all this while missing half a season. Again, in my opinion, it's no contest. Summors is the best GU player ever.

  8. You "younger" folks sould probably listen to what the "older" posters have to say as they have seen them BOTH PLAY THE GAME. This doesn't come from records or publications or rumor. They have SEEN THEM PLAY !!!

  9. I have to agree with everyone (except the one e-mail person). I am in the "younger" crowd (well probably "much much much younger" crowd as I never saw neither Shanghai nor Summors play. However, my grandpa saw both. He does not get excited easily, but when he does he's like a 5 year old talking about today's show and tell. He'll reference many past great Gannon players, including both Matthews and Summors. He talks with great respect about Matthews (Shanghai was my father's favorite player... he said that Matthews was just exhilarating to watch!), but when he talks about Summors... it's that awesome show and tell day when you go to bring your really cool new toy in to show everyone. For him to say Summors was the best, I have to believe it because he never uses that term loosely. And I agree with everyone that if you didn't see them play live, you have no room to criticize either way. I sure can't.

  10. I remember the thunderous sound Glen would make as he grabbed a rebound and clutched the ball into both hands.

    Wow: 32 rebounds in a game!!!! (if memory serves me correct without looking it up...)


    Jimmy: Didn't Shanghi block 11 shots versus Textile in a league playoff game one evening??