Seven Decades in the Stands
By Anna Konczak
In a town of 40,000 people and surrounded by corn fields, there is not much else to do in the Quincy winter weather but watch basketball. The basketball teams in the Quincy community are well supported, especially by one man in particular.
George Caspermeyer had his moment on the court after 63 years of sitting in the bleachers. The QU Athletic Department, the Men’s Basketball Team and new head coach Ryan Hellenthal, honored Caspermeyer’s seven decades of loyalty to the QU Men’s Basketball Program in between the two games. Caspermeyer stood on the court in front of a packed Pepsi Arena. A player from every decade that Caspermeyer has been a season ticket holder stood on the court alongside him to visually represent his long-term commitment and properly thank him for his 63 years of support.
Those players include: two-time hall of fame inductee Dick Thompson and Ben Bumbry representing the 1950s, George Meyer representing the 1960s, Bill Dorethy representing the 1970s, Mike Elbe representing the 1980s, Kevin Reller representing the 1990s, Brian Feldner representing the 2000s, and Justin Brock represented the 2010s.
“I’ll tell you what, I can’t believe all these wonderful people. It’s been a wonderful ride. I’ve seen some wonderful players come out of QU and it’s really been a good ride since 1955,” Caspermeyer said.
Hellenthal presented Caspermeyer with a basketball signed by the 2017-2018 team. Caspermeyer’s commitment to QU basketball is the longest commitment from any fan in the program’s history.
“It was really memorable to be here. Not for myself but more for George and I think we’re all here to support George and thank him for all the years and decades of support to this college this community and the basketball program,” Mike Elbe said.
Caspermeyer’s night to shine was created after George Meyer was reading the paper one day. Meyer saw an article about a local high school basketball fan that had been attending games since the 1960s. Meyer knew that Caspermeyer had been a fan even before then and wanted to follow suit in giving recognition to local devoted fans.
“I played in 1960 to 1963 and I didn’t know George at the time but he kept coming up and talking to me all the time about where I played on the floor, what I did and those kinds of things. I says ‘how long have you been coming to these games?’ and he said he got inspired in 1955 by Dick Thompson and Ben Bumbry who are local basketball legends and their team went to the national finals. He said ever since then he’s been going to games and enjoying it. He said ‘I can tell you things about all the players from back then till now,’” George Meyer said. “Got to thinking that we oughta honor him because I’m sure there’s no other fans here that long.”
The 1955 basketball team had such a successful season that Caspermeyer was hooked on the game. Although it took some time to come around to the idea of attending games, his wife joins him in the stands to honor his long term commitment to the game.
Caspermeyer isn’t only a great basketball fan, but he’s also an active member of St. Peter Church and also a great neighbor.
“We were neighbors for 20 years and he’s just a super, super person,” Dick Thompson said. “He was always a person who was caring and concerning person. He really was a yard person. I’d see him out in his yard quite a bit and I always wondered how much more time he could spend in his yard because I just didn’t do that.”
The couple’s loyalty stretches farther than just QU basketball. They have season tickets for one of the local high schools, Quincy Notre Dame, and casually attend John Wood Community College games. When the seasons change and baseball is in full swing, Caspermeyer is an avid baseball fan. He and his wife attend as many Quincy Gems games as they can.
“It’s really been a pleasure to see him enjoy it throughout the years and I’m really glad that I let him go all the time,” Caspermeyer’s wife joked.
QU baseball is not a past time Caspermeyer picked up in the gloomy days when basketball is out of season. Two of his 11 grandchildren were athletes at QU. One played softball and the other played baseball.
“Not only does he support [QU] but he sends people here to support the teams,” Meyer said.
Caspermeyer was very appreciative of the recognition he received for doing what he loves.
“I played here in 1982 to 1986 and knew him being an avid fan during those years. He was always very complimentary of my play. Never critical. And so he was always very positive and supportive and I think that’s sort of the way he’s been in his life. I mean he’s always been that guy that’s an optimist you know thinks the glass is half full, looks on the better side of life and George has just been an inspiration to a lot of us that played here and to a lot of people in the community too. He’s just been a pillar,” Elbe said.