Herbert “Geese” Ausbie is a living legend in the sport of basketball, staking his claim to fame as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Ausbie entertained fans for over two decades, and was recognized by the organization in a ceremony at the top of the year.
Ausbie was born in Crescent, Oklahoma on April 25, 1938. He was a star athlete in high school across several sports, including basketball, baseball, and track. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, he entered Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was a star player for its basketball squad. Upon graduating, Ausbie fielded offers from the MLB’s Chicago Cubs and some NBA teams, but instead decided to try out for the Globetrotters.
In 1961 after an open tryout, Ausbie made the team and quickly became one of the team’s fan favorites. Ausbie’s wife and college sweetheart, Awilda, pushed her husband to make the squad. In a 1985 interview, Ausbie said his wife wrote Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein several letters until Ausbie was invited to camp.
Like fellow legends Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal, Ausbie shared center stage as a “clown prince of basketball” and hammed it up with the best of the Globetrotters. From 1961 to his retirement in 1985, Ausbie thrilled audiences with his passing skills and comical antics.
Settling in Little Rock with his wife, Ausbie began hosting anti-drug workshops for area youth. In 1995, he returned to the team as head coach and manager of operations. In his time away from the team, Ausbie was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1995, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame made him an inductee.
Ausbie was further honored in the 21st Century when in 2001, he was named to the Oklahoma Sport Hall of Fame. Last January, Ausbie’s No. 35 jersey was officially retired during a halftime ceremony at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.