Monday, May 30, 2016

The Becker Brothers - Promotional Postcard

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Back in the 1950s the local NWA wrestling office out of Richmond, promoted by promoter Bill Lewis (who was affiliated with Jim Crockett in Charlotte) sent postcards out to regular fans reminding them of the upcoming shows at the arena at Strawberry Hill, the venue on the State Fairgrounds of Virginia just outside Richmond. Lewis ran weekly shows there.

Seen here is one of those vintage postcards, featuring a photograph of the Bobby and George Becker, one of the great tag teams in the early 1950s.

The postcard is very cool in its own way. I love the reference to the locations for tickets - Adam Hat Store at 8th and Broad Streets in Richmond. Interesting how a hat shop was place for wrestling tickets; the same was true in Charlotte for over four decades where tickets to Charlotte events could be purchased at the National Hat Shop. 

George Becker was a fixture in the Carolinas and Virginias in the 1950s and 1960s, also booking the territory for Jim Crockett Sr. for nearly a decade. Bobby Becker died at a relatively young age after a short and sudden battle with leukemia.

Carroll Hall, who publishes the All Star Championship Wrestling blog, once wrote of the Becker Brothers:

The late Bill Lewis, promoter from Richmond,VA is credited with bringing George and Bobby Becker to Virginia and the Carolina's in 1951. They were extremely popular, so much so that sometime during their time as a team here (1951-1954),the Mayor of Charlotte, Victor Shaw, presented them with the keys to the Queen City.

They feuded with Al and John Smith, Ernie and Emil Dusek, Hans Schnabel and Mr. Moto, Freddie Blassie and Billy McDaniels and many others.

The story about Bobby Becker dying in the ring is a myth. He wrestled his last match in Nov. 1954 in
Greenville SC. No one in the wrestling business knew that he had been sick except George. Bobby Becker passed away on Thanksgiving day 1954 in a New York hospital. This was two weeks after his last match. 

Steve Johnson, co-author of the book "Pro-Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams", added:

Did a chapter on the Beckers in our book on tag teams. I spent nine months trying to find a surviving relative of Bobby (John Emmerling, also wrestled as Ray Schwartz) without luck.

As Carroll noted, he died of leukemia and it came on very quickly. Lewis tried to get to NY to see Bobby before he died but did not make it in time. Box office gold in the early days of tag teams, not just here but also in California.

This wonderful postcard is a relic of an era long gone in professional wrestling.

Postcard part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Collection.