After moving from Mississippi to Centralia in 1946, Bates soon became a true Centralia High School basketball fan. Along with working for the Illinois Central Railroad for 32 years, he was smitten with Orphan basketball fever.
From the late 40’s through the present day, he has been a religious follower of the Orphans. From his first years here, when he saw the likes of
Charles “pig” Oland,
Bobby Joe Mason and
George Marcum, he has watched many of the great players in CHS basketball history.
The early 60’s brought the likes of Richard
Coleman, and Chuck Garrett, and
Bates remembers well the 1963 state championship game with Chicago (Carver) when the
team including Herb
Duncan, and Ron Johnson fell by one point. Later he got to see
Garrett, Mel Stalls, and Rick
A few years later he watched as Matt Shaw, Lance Marcum, and Brian Dinkelman and the
team brought home a third place state trophy. Of course he was in Peoria
in 2011 when the Orphans garnered the second place trophy with R.J. Kwiatkowski, Brian Betts, Daniel Westbrook, Desmond Rush, Tyler Obermeir, Mark McConnaughay and Alex Fritch.
Speaking in 2011, at age 86, he stated, “At the season ticket drawing I am always front and center, patiently waiting for my name to be drawn. Then I look forward for the season to begin. Come hell or high water I will be there.”