Posted on Sun, Nov. 11, 2007
Book tells story of 1940 Granite City state champs
BY WILL BUSS
A new book about the state basketball title Granite City High School won in
1940 reveals victories on and off the court.
Author Dan Manoyan’s book, "Men of Granite," is more than the story of how
10 young men worked together to win a state championship. It also was the
triumph within the community that initially drew Manoyan’s interest.
"I was kind of struck by this team because there were so many foreigners,
especially the Armenians," he said. "I’m half-Armenian, myself. So I thought
this was interesting."
After visiting the city following a St. Louis University basketball game,
the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sportswriter conducted more research and found
two surviving players.
One is Andy Hagopian, who was a starting guard on that team. The other is
John Markarian, who was called up to the team when it reached the post-season.
Both were juniors that year and served large roles in Manoyan’s research,
which eventually led to his book.
The story in the story Manoyan found was how seven of the team’s players,
including all five starters, were first-generation Americans. Their parents
had immigrated to Granite City from Armenia, Hungary and Turkey. The players
hailed from Lincoln Park, located on the west side of town, "the wrong side of
the tracks." After winning the title, that all changed.
"I was thrilled that I was fortunate enough to be on it," Markarian said. "I
never anticipated all of the things that happened after the game, and even
Hagopian was elected student council president his senior year –something
he said would have never happened otherwise.
"It really galvanized this town, brought it together and eliminated that
across-the-track bit," he said.
Betty Dortch, of Collinsville, bought a copy autographed by the surviving
players and its author Saturday afternoon at the Granite City High School Hall
of Fame. Her late father, John Doroghazi, had also grown up in Lincoln Place.
"We are of Hungarian decent," Dortch said. "There were some Hungarian
players on the team, and I just want to try to get a flavor of what it waslike
at Lincoln Place in the ’30s and ’40s."
Manoyan said he has just learned that there is a third surviving member of
the championship team. Hagopian said Sam Mouradian moved to California in the
1950s and wasn’t heard from again. Manoyan said that Mouradian’s relatives
have contacted him and say the former Warrior forward is still alive and well
on the west coast.
"As old as this story is, it’s very relevant to what’s going on in this
country today," Manoyan said. "It’s truly a very relevant story. The more
things change, the more they stay the same, I guess."
Contact reporter Will Buss at [email protected]_ (mailto:[email protected]) or
345-7822, ext. 24.
© 2007 Belleville News-Democrat and wire service sources.