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George Sweeney

Sport: Basketball

Born: May 19, 1898

Died: September 23, 1978

Town: Atlantic City

George Edward Sweeney was born May 19, 1898 in Atlantic City. George was a solid defender and good leaper. He was an especially good free throw shooter. In the days when teams could designate a player to take all of its foul shots, George was the obvious choice. He stood 5’11”, which in the game’s early days made him a forward. He came to national prominence as a member of the University of Pennsylvania varsity basketball squad, which played its home games in a claustrophobic gym on the third floor of Weightman Hall.

George played three varsity seasons beginning in 1917–18. After his first season he left school for 6 months to serve in the Navy in the waning days of World War I. In 1919–20, the Quakers were undefeated and George was their top player, as well as the nation’s leading scorer at 14.9 points per game. He made 93 of 126 free throw attempts.

The 1920 squad was loaded with talent. Center Dutch Peck and guard Danny McNichol were also ranked among the top players in the country. The Quakers defeated top-ranked University of Chicago to lay claim to the unofficial national title. In George ‘s three seasons at Penn, the Quakers went 56–4. He was a consensus All-American in 19189 and again in 1920.

George was also the star of Penn’s baseball squad. He received offers from several minor-league clubs in 1920, but chose to play basketball for Hewitt Rubber in Buffalo, where he was also offered an executive position. Hewitt played against the Western New York's top pro clubs. During his time with the team he set a record by sinking 47 foul shots in a row.

In the early years of the Depression, George decided to teach and coach high school basketball. In 1931, he moved back to his hometown to coach Atlantic City High, and led the varsity until the mid-1950s. George lived the rest of his life in South Jersey and passed away in 1978 at the age of 80.

 

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