Loyola Basketball: A History of Remarkable Ramblers Teams


On Monday, the Virginia Cavaliers and the Texas Tech Red Raiders will compete for the NCAA basketball championship.

But this time last year, it was Chicago’s Loyola Ramblers basketball team making an unlikely appearance in the Final Four. 

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A new book by longtime Chicago sportswriter Fred Mitchell documents not only last year’s Cinderella story, but Loyola’s 1963 NCAA championship squad which faced racism every step of the way on their road to victory.

The book is called “The History of Loyola Basketball: More Than a Shot and a Prayer.”

Mitchell joins us in discussion. He’s the author of 12 books who spent 41 years at the Chicago Tribune, and is now an adjunct professor at DePaul University and a community correspondent for the Chicago Blackhawks.

  • Sister Jean with her bobblehead

    Sister Jean with her bobblehead

  • Loyola Ramblers 1963 team

    Loyola Ramblers 1963 team

  • Porter Moser, right, talks to his former mentor, the late Rick Majerus.

    Porter Moser, right, talks to his former mentor, the late Rick Majerus.

  • Loyola coach George Ireland talks to Ron Miller, left, and Johnny Eagan during 1963 game.

    Loyola coach George Ireland talks to Ron Miller, left, and Johnny Eagan during 1963 game.

About the book

Loyola Ramblers, the Final Four, and the Run of a Lifetime

Loyola has become a national brand, led by a pragmatic, genuine, and unassuming head coach. Porter Moser is known for doing things the right way and encouraging his players to “buy in to the culture of the program” that stresses building character and encourages good sportsmanship, teamwork, and respect for the process.

The over-arching national narrative of the 2017–18 NCAA men’s basketball tournament became the valiant and totally unexpected run made by the Loyola Ramblers to the Final Four. What a refreshing Cinderella Run that fans nationwide appreciated after a college basketball season overloaded with negative headlines.

The fabric of the team was woven from the initial threads of the 1963 NCAA championship Loyola squad that not only captured a national title, but also made historic strides for college basketball and the nation with regard to civil rights and racial integration. While the nation was admiring the grit, maturity, and determination of Loyola’s relatively unheralded players, they also fell in love with the sincerity of Sister Jean—the ninety-nine-year-old team chaplain and pop culture sensation now featured on bobbleheads and memes across the country. This unique and colorful story is properly told through the voices of those who actually took part in the joyful games, without shying away from the painful incidents that represent a significant part of our country’s history.


Upcoming event

Fred Mitchell and Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt will attend a book signing on Tuesday, April 9 at Gentile Arena following the annual team banquet at 7:45 p.m.


Related stories:

Loyola Ramblers: What’s Next After Team’s Final Four Run

Loyola Ramblers’ 1963 NCAA Win Also a Story of Racial Justice

Loyola Ramblers Head to NCAA Tournament, Ending 33-Year Drought


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