The Washington Times-Herald

Local Sports

December 13, 2013

Still ready to cut the nets down at 90

The world was a different place on Dec. 14, 1923. It was before television, internet, trans-Atlantic flight, moon-walking, computers, the horrors of WWII or the social change that has essentially moved us from the end of the Victorian era to cyber-driven virual world we live in today.

And there was an other thing that wasn’t here — Jim Riffey.

However, not too very long after Big Jim arrived that December, he made a big impact of Washington Hatchet basketball.

Jim Riffey is one of two remaining members of the Hatchet championship teams of 1941 and 1942, a member of three basketball Hall of Fames, and in his day, he was the “big man on campus at WHS.”

He will also turn 90 on Saturday.

I have known Jim for the last decade or so. He began to call from his home in Battle Creek, Mich., at the start of the Hatchets “decade of dominance” in the early 2000s and we have continued to correspond several times a year ever since.

He has been invaluable as resource as we looked back on those early championships, and has given me several first-person narratives about his experiences in the South Pacific. However, mostly what he has given me was his friendship. His booming voice and infectious laugh always leaves me with a smile after one of our phone calls.

Washington fans should know that he has his son Mike helps him keep an eye on the internet with the Hatchets and follows the Zeller brothers as well. As he enters his ninth decade of life, Jim is always good for a laugh — and never afraid to share his opinion.

Jim is a living, walking history of the early years of the NBA. When he was selected 19th in the 1950 NBA draft. Do you know who was drafted just a head of him? Bob Cousy, Paul Arizin, Bill Sharman and George Yardley — four NBA Hall of Famers. In the fourth round of that same draft, Hall of Fame Minnesota Viking football coach Bud Grant was selected by the Lakers. Not bad company for a guy from the West End (something he is still proud to say).

Text Only
Local Sports
  • SPT-WT-073014-ANDREW LUCK PIC Luck still learning in Year 3 ANDERSON — Wind chill estimates put the temperature at 59 degrees Monday morning at Anderson University.During one stretch of his fifth training camp practice of the year, however, it likely felt much colder to Andrew Luck.The Indianapolis Colts quar

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports Briefs Par 3 Tournament ResultsMike and Ellen McKittrich were the first place gross winners of the Par 3 Tournament Sunday at Washington Country Club with a 54. Mark Smith-Susan Chambers and Nate and Blythe Wildridge followed with a 55. Pat and Joanne Bahr

    July 30, 2014

  • Blu-chip 3 pic Blu-Chip takes over Complex The Washington Sports Complex played host to the 3rd Annual Blu-Chip 3v3 tournament, which is in memory of Zach Blubaum and Derek Arvin. The tourney was the largest of the three that have been played and helps to raise funds for the Derek Arvin Schol

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat Cheating has been part of college athletics probably for as long as people have bothered to keep score.Sometimes it could be as simple as a C-note handshake or a little cash slipped into a player’s socks outside his locker with a note telling him to

    July 25, 2014

  • Blu Chip ready for its third year Time is supposed to heal all wounds, but of course, that isn’t the case. Some tragedies are so severe that the healing process might never be complete, but rather a daily reminder of what has been lost. Whether it is a bumper sticker on a car, a funn

    July 25, 2014

  • Colts' 'monster' now preparing to 'hunt' ANDERSON — There’s a different kind of buzz surrounding the Indianapolis Colts as they prepare to report for training camp today at Anderson University.Expectations have been high inside the locker room since Chuck Pagano arrived in January 2012 and

    July 23, 2014

  • Sports Briefs WHS PhysicalsWashington High School athletic office would like to announce Physical Examinations for athletes will be held at Dr. Cullen’s office on Tuesday July 29, 9 am to 3 pm. All Washington athletes may use this service including High School, Ju

    July 23, 2014

  • SPT-WT-071914-ADAM GRABER PIC Barr-Reeve hands out Spring Awards MONTGOMERY — After the Fall and Winter sports seasons included a team reaching the state championship, Barr-Reeve’s final sport season had some catching up to do. Spring didn’t result in any state championship apperances, but it did see the Vikings c

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Posturing, predictions fly as SEC turns to a new season There’s plenty to enjoy about the Southeastern Conference’s annual cattle call in Hoover, Ala., where media of every description join players and coaches from each of the league’s 14 football teams to discuss the coming season. The best aspect is tha

    July 18, 2014

  • MadiWebster Webster to compete at Gymnastics Championships LOUISVILLE — More than 1,600 of the nation’s top gymnasts in acrobatic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline/tumbling will be in Louisville, this week for the 2014 USA Gymnastics Championships. Madi Webster of Odon, who just placed third in

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo