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Game of life: Gene Roop played for Oklahoma's first NCAA Tournament team

by Scott Munn Published: August 5, 2013

A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:

*Gene Roop, an all-around athlete from Tulsa, died at age 95. He played basketball for Oklahoma in 1939, when the team participated in the first NCAA Tournament. OU, one of eight teams in the tournament, lost to eventual champion Oregon in the semifinals. It “didn't seem like that big a deal (then), and I don't think anybody in Oklahoma got too excited about it,” Roop told the Tulsa World years ago. “Of course, if we'd gone on and won the national championship, people might have gotten a little excited.” Roop, a 6-foot-1 All-State guard, went to OU after leading Tulsa Central to the 1936 state basketball championship. He was also an excellent tennis player, winning two state doubles titles in high school and a pair of conference doubles crowns with the Sooners. Golf was Roop's trade. The World War II veteran operated Western Village Golf Course in Tulsa and worked as head pro at Mohawk Park. He had eight aces as a golfer.

*Marv Rotblatt, 85, spent part of the 1956 baseball season with the Tulsa Oilers. At 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, the lefty was 0-1 for Tulsa, which was one of four teams Rotblatt played for that season. He was on the downside of his pro career by the time he hit Tulsa; Rotblatt had played for the Chicago White Sox in 1948, '50 and '51.

*Marjorie Carter Rosengrant owned and operated Triangle Express Trucking Co. from 1966-1992. In her spare time, Rosengrant liked to fish and golf. In 1994, she won the Oklahoma Senior Women's Golf Association championship at Lake Texoma. The Oklahoma City resident died recently at age 88.

*Jim Canon, 90, of Oklahoma City played tennis and basketball at El Reno Junior College. The land man continued to play tennis as an adult, achieving several state rankings. Also an avid Sooner football fan who attended home games for more than 40 years.

*Barbara Dexter Richardson, 52, of Muskogee was a fourth degree black belt, winning several state and national karate championships. She also served as a ringside official with the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission. By trade, Richardson was the general sales manager for Clear Channel in Tulsa.

*Dick Dickson, 82, of Tulsa was on the Oklahoma State basketball team under coach Henry Iba. ... George Cole, 87, of Oklahoma City once owned a Dunlap Sporting Goods business. ... Eleanor Jaco Minx, 76, of Oklahoma City played on Capitol Hill High School's state championship softball team in 1953. ... Mabel Smith Clowers, 89, of Oklahoma City owned OU football season tickets with husband Paul for more than 40 years. ... Tony McVay, 75, of Tulsa bred and raised race horses. ... Steve Morgan, 60, was a youth bowling coach.

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by Scott Munn
Sports Assistant Editor
Scott Munn joined The Oklahoman/Oklahoma City Times sports staffs in October 1982. He spent a year as a formcharter, three years on the desk and 16 as a reporter. Scott has spent the last nine years as an evening assistant sports editor. Scott's...
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Where are they now?

Hessman, who threatened last season to break Oklahoma City's modern record for most home runs in a season (38), is spending 2013 with the Louisville Bats of the International League. Hessman, in his 18th year of pro ball, has 22 homers for the Cincinnati Reds' top farm team; he's batting .237 with 111 strikeouts. A year ago, he had 35 homers for the OKC RedHawks while batting .231 with 136 strikeouts.


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