Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 17, Number 1, Spring, 2005 Page: 66
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STARS IN THEIR EYES
BY NANCY NICHOLS
he Dallas Diamonds of the Women's
Professional Basketball League were the
first mavericks of local basketball. In 1979,
the Dallas Cowboys defined "sports" in Dallas.
The city was deep in the throes of "Cowboyitis."
Even casual fans were well versed in team
stats. The Cowboys' success had conquered the
world; they were "America's Team." National TV
broadcasters joked that the "hole" in the roof of
Texas Stadium was constructed so that God
could watch "His" Cowboys.
At the same time, crowds were flocking to
Arlington Stadium where Al Oliver, Fergie
Jenkins, Jim Sundberg, Bump Wills, and the rest
of the charismatic Texas Rangers may not have
been setting the baseball world on fire, but they
were playing entertaining ball. The Dallas
Blackhawks and the Ft. Worth Texans "turnpike
rivalry" was the hottest show on the ice in the
Central Hockey League. The Mavericks weren't
even on the horizon and neither was Reunion
Arena; the plans were still on the drawing board.
Basketball in Dallas belonged to SMU and its
Mustang Mania. The most popular women in
sports were the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
But the sports world in Dallas took a futuristic
turn in November 1979 when a crowd of
about 1,800 (depending on who was counting)
showed up at the Dallas Convention Center for
what was billed as the first professional women's
sporting event in Dallas, the inaugural game of
the Dallas Diamonds of the Women's
Professional Basketball League.
Tennis champ and then Dallas resident
Martina Navratilova stood at center court wait
ing to officially open the season with the ceremonial
ball toss. Dallas Cowboys Hollywood
Henderson and Harvey Martin were front row
center. Most of the local press organizations sat
courtside. Once the game was underway, the
crowd took quickly to the women running and
gunning their way down the court. Nobody
remembers if the Diamonds won or lost, but
they do remember being a part of Dallas history.
And like most tales of brave pioneers, the history
of the Dallas Diamonds is full of victories and
defeats on and off the court.
Original owner Judson Phillips, a local businessman
who'd made his money in McDonald's,
contacted me earlier in the year. He had witnessed
the WBL's birth in 1978 and was eager to
buy a team and, well, get into the game. I'd spent
a couple of years doing public relations for the
Dallas Blackhawks, and Phillips was looking for
a woman with knowledge of sports and the local
media. I quit my restaurant job and signed on as
The WBL's first season (1978-79) had
attracted a lot of fans and press. Eight teamsIowa
Cornets, New Jersey Gems, Milwaukee
Does, Chicago Hustle, Minnesota Fillies, Dayton
Rockettes, New York Stars, Houston Angelsplayed
a 34-game schedule. "Machine Gun"
Molly Bolin emerged as the league's first sex
symbol. The blond bomber from Monrovia,
Iowa, who scored over 70 points in a thirty-two
minute game five times and set a single game
scoring record of 83 points when she was a junior
in high school, scored 53 points in one game
during her first season in the WBL.
66 LEGACIES Spring 2005
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 17, Number 1, Spring, 2005, periodical, 2005; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35090/m1/68/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.