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The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century

April 30, 1956

No Pulling One Over on Auerbach


St. Louis Hawk owner Ben Kerner thought he had tricked the head coach/general manager of the Boston Celtics, Red Auerbach.

Kerner didn't think the University of San Francisco's Bill Russell--who'd led his team to two consecutive NCAA championships--could score sufficiently in the NBA to merit a first-round draft pick.

Auerbach, without telling Kerner, thought Russell could become the best defensive center in the game.

So Kerner, on this date 43 years ago, traded the Hawks' rights to the second pick in the draft to the Celtics for Ed Macauley, who had starred at St. Louis University in the late '40s, and the draft rights to Kentucky star Cliff Hagan, who was coming out of the Army.

The Rochester Royals had the first pick, but Celtic owner Walter Brown arranged to have the Ice Capades steered to Rochester for two consecutive years. In exchange, the Royals agreed not to draft Russell, taking Duquesne's Sihugo Green instead.

Russell joined Boston after he had led the U.S. to a gold medal at the Melbourne Olympic Games.

Russell made his NBA debut against the Hawks on Dec. 22, 1956. He not only had 16 rebounds in 21 minutes, but blocked three fourth-quarter shots by St. Louis all-star Bob Pettit.

Russell led the Celtics to 11 championships. In three of those championship series, Russell and the Celtics beat the Hawks.

Also on this date: In 1922, Chicago White Sox pitcher Charley Robertson pitched a perfect game against the Tigers at Detroit. Only six balls were hit to the outfield. There would not be another perfect game in the major leagues until Don Larsen did it for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series. . . . In 1961, Willie Mays became the ninth player to hit four home runs in a game in San Francisco's 14-1 win at Milwaukee. The Giants hit eight homers in the game.

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