John Ludka: Bleeding Orange Nearly 70 Years Later

By Travis Eldridge

January 8, 2013 Updated Jan 8, 2013 at 7:44 PM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton)

Before the Carrier Dome, the Nike contracts and crowds of more than 30,000, John Ludka suited up for the Orange.

"I never intended to go to college, but then Rib Baysinger came down from Syracuse and offered me the opportunity to fill out an application," said Ludka.

That happened nearly 70 years ago, as Ludka, just a Johnson City teenager back then, headed north to play for Syracuse from 1945 through 1947. At nearly 7'0" feet tall, he would even be a prized recruit in this now a days, but back then Ludka was a giant. He was the tallest on the team by far, even being listed at 7'3" at times as a publicity stunt.

Similar to the current Syracuse's team though, some of his best memories came beating some of Syracuse's still most hated rivals.

"We had some fantastic games down in Madison Square Garden," said Ludka. "We had a game against St. Johns. We beat them in the Garden. Because of that we got the invitation to the National Invitation."

In other ways though, a lot has changed in the game of basketball since the time Ludka played.

"We could never play like they do now, we played more possession ball," John said. "If we had games in the 20's or 30's, that was a high score."

Now, Syracuse averages nearly 80 points per game, but John still doesn't miss one bounce of the ball. Even when you're the oldest, cheering for your alma mater always stays the same.

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