On January 7, 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team played their first game, in Hinkley, Illinois. They wouldn’t play a “home game” (in Harlem, New York City) until 1968. The Globetrotters were organized as an exhibition team in their hometown of Chicago, Illinois. The original team, the so-called “Savoy Big Five,” were named after the legendary ballroom (the Savoy) where the team played games before dances. The team soon changed its name to reflect the sophisticated New York neighborhood of Harlem, more than 1,000 kilometers away!

The 1976-77 National Unit Harlem Globetrotters team. Kneeling, from left: Nate Branch, Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and Jackie Jackson. Standing, from left: Dallas Thornton, Edmond Lawrence, Robert Paige, Twiggy Sanders, and Jerry Venable. SOURCE: NY Times

In celebration of their 90th year of entertaining families around the world, the iconic Harlem Globetrotters returned to Hinckley, Illinois, today, the anniversary date of the team’s first-ever road game in 1927. As part of the festivities, the Globetrotters erected a new sign to denote the historic site during a special ceremony with the team in Hinckley this afternoon. The sign, standing 10 feet high by 9 feet wide, is located near Hinckley-Big Rock High School on U.S. Highway 30.

Harlem Globetrotters Harlem Globetrotters Hinckley Sign Unveiling January 7, 2016 Image © Ross Dettman