Eddie Swain established himself as a great basketball player at a young age. He was a star in the Chester Biddy League for kids 10-12, which served as a springboard for Swain to play outstanding basketball as a 5-foot-7 point guard at Chester High School and Cheyney University.
Swain will be honored for his basketball exploits at the Cavalcade of Stars Luncheon at the Sports Legends of Delaware County Museum, 301 Iven Ave., Wayne. The event will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Swain will be able to reflect on his playing days, when he was selected Mr. Biddy Basketball in 1964 and led Chester to victory in the International Biddy Basketball Championship in Jersey City — a great moment in his career.
“We had to go through quite a few teams,” Swain said. “We had to go through a few teams in Delaware County and around Pennsylvania to be invited over to Jersey City for the internationals.”
The championship tournament included teams from East Chicago, Jersey City and Uniontown in New Jersey, Puerto Rico and several teams from overseas, he said.
“We beat Puerto Rico in the semifinals. That was are hardest game. It went into overtime. We beat them by two,” Swain said. “We wound up beating Jersey City by nine or 10 points [for the international championship]. I was averaging 26 points a game in the tournament.”
Swain was named Mr. Biddy Basketball, was chosen as the Most Valuable Player and got the Merit Cup Award.
Biddy Basketball was a good foundation for Swain’s basketball career going forward, he said.
“It helped me tremendously,” he said. “When I was 10, Bananas taught me the game. His name is Jim Detulleo. Bananas was his nickname. Then, I moved with my mom from the Bennett Homes to right in back of the Dairy Queen at 9th and Lamokin [Streets]. I was right near The Cage.”
Swain honed his basketball skills at The Cage, a legendary basketball court in Chester where some of the town’s greatest players have played.
“We had Ken Shamberger, Mike Marshall, Emerson Baynard, Granny Nash and Horace Walker who played there. All of them came from The Cage,” Swain said.
“We had a lot of great basketball players in Chester like Harry McLaughlin, Bo Ryan, Rubin Daniels, Paul Williams and Steve Powell. Then we had the Kirkland brothers, Wilbur and Charles [“Buff”] Kirkland. They were great players. That’s what kept me humble. It was an honor just to play with these guys.”
An All-Delco standout, Swain helped Chester High’s basketball teams get to the PIAA state finals in 1966 and 1967. After his scholastic days with the Clippers, he played great college basketball at Cheyney University from 1969 to 1973. During those years, Cheyney had magnificent players including Leroy Eldridge, Charles Kirkland, Antoine Harrison and John Clifton.
But for Swain, it all started in the Chester Biddy League. The luncheon will feature Swain and several other Delaware County sports legends. Tickets for the luncheon are $25. For more information, call (610) 909-4919.