Everyone who has passed through Butler University as a student and many more than those know who Tony Hinkle was. But how many know anything about the who preceded him at Butler and brought him to the school in the first place?
His name was Pat Page and he had a significant career in his own right. Like Hinkle, he had played college sports under Amos Alonzo Stagg at the University of Chicago. Also like Hinkle he was a multi sport athlete and later coach.
But Page wasn’t just any athlete. He was one of the stars on what was the first team to win a real national college basketball championship.
The year was 1908 and the champion of the Eastern Intercollegiate League which included Cornell, Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and Yale would meet the champion of the Western Intercollegiate League in a best of three championship series. Teams from the West included Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Chicago and Purdue.
Chicago won the West led by 6’3″ center John Schommer and guard Pat Page. Their coach was Joe Raycroft whom Stagg had hand picked when he elected to concentrate on coaching football and handling his athletic director duties. Chicago and Wisconsin tied for the regular season title in the West with 7-1 records. A playoff was needed to determine who would meet East winner Pennsylvania for the national title. The game was held at Wisconsin with Chicago winning by two points thanks to a last minute basket by Page.
That put the Maroons in the national title series. In the first game played on Chicago’s home court Page again made headlines with a shot heaved at the goal from nearly between his legs as he was about to be tied up. Chicago won 21-18.
The scene shifted to Pennsylvania for game two. Chicago made it a sweep with a one point win thanks to a game ending shot from beyond mid-court by Schommer as time expired.
Chicago was declared national champions of 1908. Later after Page began his coaching career at Butler he took the Bulldogs to a national champion designation. Tony Hinkle was his assistant. Then four years later Hinkle himself guided a Bulldog team to another national championship by declaration.
Page had started his coaching career at Chicago as head basketball and assistant football coach in 1911. He added head coach in baseball from 1913 through 1920. He moved to Butler in 1920 to be head coach in football and basketball and remained until leaving for Indiana in 1926 to coach football only.
Page didn’t have much success at Indiana in football with a 14-24-3 record for five years. After he left he spent one year back at Chicago coaching baseball and back on the football staff as an assistant.
Ultimately he ended his coaching career at the College of Idaho in 1936-37. Page coached until 1937 but did not coach basketball after 1926 at Butler. Still for his work at both Chicago and Butler he was named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1962. His career basketball coaching record showed 269 wins, 140 losses and two national champions, one as a player and one as a coach.