Tom Van Arsdale

You’ll have to take my word for it: this is Tom, not Dick. The twins could hardly be more identical. They look remarkably similar, sound remarkably similar, and had remarkably similar playing careers.

We conducted this conversation over the telephone. He was on vacation at the time – in Wisconsin, I believe. I had met him casually once before, but didn’t know him, but it was like talking with an old friend.

The Van Arsdale twins played in the first Indiana state championship game I remember watching, in 1961. We were at my grandmother’s house, watching on a black and white TV in her living room. Kokomo defeated Manual in overtime, a loss that still haunts the twins. They had a seven-point lead with 1:07 left in regulation, but couldn’t hold it.

Tom and Dick were co-Mr. Basketballs in ’61. They went on to have great playing careers at IU and good playing careers in the NBA. Tom, in fact, was named to three All-Star teams and holds the NBA record for most games played without making a playoff appearance. Call that being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for the wrong team.

The twins retired after playing one NBA season together, in Phoenix, in 1977. They’ve continued to live there since. It would have been fun to do a show with Dick, too, for comparison’s sake, but he had a stroke in 2006. He speaks well, but sometimes gets his thoughts jumbled; he’ll say “year” when he means to say “week,” for example. It wouldn’t have been fair to do this kind of show with him. He became an accomplished artist after his stroke, though, and has lived happily since.

You’ll enjoy hearing Tom’s memory of his early days in basketball, his vacation with Bob Knight, and how that 1961 championship game still haunts him.

First aired 2009

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