The Magical Contents of Abe Saperstein’s Suitcase

by Al Pastor

The Hawk as a young Trotter, c. 1966.

The Hawk as a young Trotter, c. 1966.

Those “Magicians of Basketball,” the Harlem Globetrotters are in town. Two nights. The occasion sent me, once a card carrying fan club member, to a 1966 program. (You got team photos and a red flexi disc, 45, of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” which worked. England, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Italy, Lebanon, Isreal, Greece and Turkey were on the itinerary. “The Hawk,” Connie Hawkins was once a Trotter, and part of this 40th anniversary team of “standard bearers.”

He’s posed kneeling in the player introductions between Meadowlark Lemon and J.C. Gipson, “Here’s one of basketball’s wonders,” the liner notes inform. “Breaking all Trotters scoring records. Did likewise the season and a half of recent American Basketball League with Pittsburgh Rens. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he left University of Iowa after freshman year.”

Owner Abe Saperstein shares personal travel tips “by one who should know.”

The contents of his suitcase, for some reason, are also featured.

“Abe says the majority of the boys on the team prefer to carry their personal wardrobes in a garment carrier type of bag.

Meadowlark, "Fred" Neil, J.C. Gipson and Hubert Ausbie, who trailed only The Big O and Elgin Baylor in collegiate scoring, were '66 "standard bearers" for the Globetrotters.

Meadowlark, “Fred” Neil, J.C. Gipson and Hubert Ausbie, who trailed only The Big O and Elgin Baylor in collegiate scoring, were ’66 “standard bearers” for the Globetrotters.

He asks them to take no more than 40 pounds of personal luggage. They carry their essential toilet articles and extras in an air lines bag or something comparable.

“Abe himself prefers a suitcase. He has a two-suiter that he uses whether it’s a one-week trip or a month or more. He does his own packing according to such a well established formulaa that he can walk in his hotel room in the dark and find any article he looks for.

“The usual contents of his suitcase for a European or far eastern junket (31 countries, 60,000 miles) are:

A black cashmere or mohair suit

2 pairs of black slacks

4 colored silk sports shirts with short sleeves

A pair of swim trunks

16 handkerchiefs

A pair of tan shoes

8 ties

8 Dacron shirts

1 sports jacket

An extra belt

4 Dacron shorts and tops

2 pairs pajamas

12 pairs black sox

A set of suspenders and brown and black shoe laces

A case containing medicines, drugs, shaving equipment, tooth paste, brushes, colognes, soap, and laundry powder.

“His answer to problems of replacement is that it’s usually possible to replace essential items. If the laundry service is poor or delayed he suggests asking a hotel chambermaid to do your personal laundry – you’ll probably find the rate not bad and the service speedy.”

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