“I said, ‘Who’s that?’
“He said, ‘Ted Day.’
“And I said, ‘No, thank you! I’m not dealing with a playboy!’”
As she recalled that exchange, she started to laugh: “The guy brought Ted to the dorm anyway to meet me. He was a basketball star and I didn’t want to be connected with that, but Ted persisted.
“He said, ‘So you don’t want to go with me?’
“I said, ‘I don’t know if I can trust you. You’ve got all those girls running after you and I don’t want to be bothered.’
“But he goes, ‘Let me be your date….I’ll be good.’”
She relented and, sure enough, Ted turned out to be all treat and no trick.
The couple married a week after the Marauders returned from the NAIA Tournament in Kansas City as national champs and the toast of the Miami Valley.
Ted Day with his wife Bunny. They were Central State sweethearts, married in March of 1965 – a week after the Marauders returned from Kansas City as the 30-0 NAIA National champions. The couple, who lived in Jefferson Township, would have been married 56 years next month. They have two sons and nine grandchildren and a great grandchild. CONTRIBUTED
Over 1,000 people met them a Cox International Airport and, according to newspaper accounts, a caravan of 500 cars escorted them from Dayton back through Xenia to their campus in Wilberforce.
Five days later, Ted Day – whose CSU teammate and best friend Ed “Bee” Bryant served as his best man – wed Bunny Fairfax.
On Feb. 3 – some six weeks shy of their 56th wedding anniversary -- Ted died at their Jefferson Township home from Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) complications. He was 78.
His funeral service will be Friday, Feb. 19 at the House of Wheat Funeral Home on Gettysburg Ave. Visitation will be 10 a.m. to noon and a private ceremony will follow.
Ted Day Jr. – “Lil Ted” as he’s still called by the family even though he’s in his mid-50s and has five children of his now – said his mother is getting lot of condolence calls from his dad’s old Marauder teammates.
They have remained close since they dominated college basketball decades ago.
“That bond has lasted 58 years,” said Bryant, referring to when they first were brought together by Marauders’ coach William Lucas.
Bryant now lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but like his other teammates, he would try to return to campus each year for Homecoming festivities and a special gathering at Ted and Bunny’s home.
“I’d try to get sweatshirts made up for the guys that tell what we did,” Ted told me when I visited him at his home a few years back. “I cook for ‘em – ribs, chicken, mac’ and cheese, whatever – and we tell stories. With that, he had grinned: “I usually try to turn on the tape recorder so I catch ‘em in lies and stuff.”
‘A basketball god in Xenia’
Ted grew up on Xenia’s East End and went to all-black East High School as a freshman. Integration brought him to Xenia High the following year and he soon starred in several sports there.
He was recruited to Tennessee State by celebrated Tigers coach, John McLendon, who had been named the NAIA Coach of the Year three times.
But by the time he got there, McLendon had left for the pros and he was red-shirted by the new coach.
“The way the story goes, he called my grandmother and said, ‘I’m coming home,’” Lil Ted said. “She tried to get him to stay, but the next thing they knew, he’d come back here on the bus.”
Instead of being relegated to the shadows, he wanted the warm embrace of home.
“Xenia loved Ted,” Bunny said. “They followed everything he did. He was like a basketball god in Xenia.”
Although he went to all black East High in Xenia as a freshman, Ted Day came to Xenia High as a sophomore when the city’s schools were integrated and became one of the XHS greatest basketball players and a two time All-Ohio selection. When he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame a decade ago, he reigned as the all-time career scorer (1,267 points) and rebounder. He also held the single game rebounding record of 33. CONTRIBUTED
He ended up at Central State, as did a couple of other transfers. Darius “Pete” Cunningham left Illinois and Cody Anderson shelved his plans with Wisconsin.
Lucas signed a pair of Michigan prep talents, Jerome Tillman and Ken Wilburn, who ended up the MVP of the NAIA tournament and a fourth-round NBA pick of the NBA Philadelphia 76ers. He got Bryant, who had just spent two years in the service and was back home in Sandusky, and he landed a few other players from across the state.
Although Bryant stresses the key to their success was that “we were a team, a real, good team without big stars” – the Marauders did have a flair.
Ted told me how people would pack Beacom Gym during pregame warmups just to watch the CSU dunk line.
John Wooden, who was credited with originating the 1-3-1 offense, was more interested in how it had been perfected by Lucas and his team and once came to watch them.
And Ted said that Ohio State coach Fred Taylor “had said he just wished he had our SECOND team.”
A precursor to the Marauders greatness showed the season prior when Xavier added them as a schedule-padder, only to lose 76-69. That year the Musketeers would go on to beat Dayton twice, Louisville, Marquette, Tennessee, St. Joseph’s, Miami, Tulsa and Detroit twice.
Xavier refused a rematch for the 1964-65 season.
The only team that did threaten CSU’s perfect season was Lincoln University out of Missouri. The Marauders had to come from behind in both games to win each by one point. In the latter, Ted scored at the buzzer in regulation to send the game to overtime.
At the NAIA national tournament, CSU had to win five games in five days. Ted was named to the all tournament team after scoring 20 in two of those games and 15 in the 85-51 romp over Oklahoma Baptist, which was led by Daytonians “Airplane Al” Tucker and his brother Gerald.
Once back home, the Marauders “hit elite status,” Bryant said. “Everybody held us up high. We had put Central State on the map and we were elated, the school was elated and so were the students.”
Three years later the 29-4 Marauders won the NAIA national crown again.
Former CSU athletics director Jahan Culbreath credited the 30-0 team that preceded them:
“The helped set the tone for Central State athletics. They set a true standard of excellence for us.”
Ted Day (No. 42 , left) comes off the court after Central State defeated Oklahoma Baptist, 85-51, to win the NAIA national title at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City in March of 1965. The Marauders finished the season 30-0. Coach William Lucas is being carried on the shoulders of the jubilant CSU players and fans. CONTRIBUTED
‘He was always trying to help people’
Bunny said she got her nickname when she was born in West Virginia:
“It was Easter and when the nurse brought me in to my mother, she said, ‘Here’s your little brown bunny!’ I was Bunny from them on.”
She and Ted had sons, Ted Jr, and Alex who everyone calls “Pat.”
Bunny was a teacher in the Springfield City Schools and then for several years with Dayton Public Schools. She got her master’s degree and then spent many years as a DPS administrator.
Ted ran recreation programs at the East Dayton YWCA, the Desota Bass projects and for the adult prison on Gettysburg.
He also started a meals delivery program for kids in need at McCabe Park on Dayton’s West Side.
“He was always trying to help people,” Lil Ted said.
Ted Day, a high-scoring, starting guard for the Marauders and a two-time NAIA All-American goes up for a lay-up during CSU’s 30-0 season. CONTRIBUTED
When I visited Ted, I asked what the secret was to 50 years of marriage?
He looked over his shoulder to make sure Bunny was out of earshot, then grinned: “You gotta be able to take the salt with the grain.”
But then he shrugged off pretense and admitted: “I loved that woman. I still do. I gotta say, we were just meant for each other.”
That point was made clear a while back when Bunny heard her sister was buying a burial plot at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus where many from their family are buried.
“I said, ‘I’ve got to do that, too,’” Bunny said. “But first I asked Ted: ‘You want to be buried in Xenia, where they all know you? Or, do you want to come over to Green Lawn and be buried with me?’”
Ted hadn’t hesitated. He picked Green Lawn and that’s where he’ll be laid to rest Feb. 20.
He always did appreciate being part of a “real, good team.”