PIDDE TO BE HONORED SATURDAY IN SIOUX FALLS
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
In the same way he was when he played basketball for Freeman High School nearly 50 years ago, Bob Pidde will be in the limelight this Saturday, Aug. 28 when he is formally inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Pidde is one of 13 men and women who make up the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020; the induction ceremony scheduled for last year was postponed following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday’s activities will take place at the Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door beginning at 11:30 a.m., with the induction ceremony starting at 1 p.m.
For more information on the event, including how to purchase tickets in advance, go to sdbbhof.com.
Pidde’s induction into the hall of fame is the capstone of a standout career as an all-around outstanding athlete for the Flyers.
He found success on the football field, leading the team in passing, rushing, kicking, punting and tackles — and was a first-team all-stater — his senior season. And he was a two-time medalist at the 1975 State Track Meet to help lead the Flyers to the Class A title that year; he still holds the school record in the shot put with a throw of 53-6 set that senior year.
But Pidde was best in the sport that will recognize him on Saturday — basketball.
His senior season of 1974-1975 is arguably the best one ever posted by a Flyer; he averaged 16.8 points and 16.4 rebounds per game, dished out more than 5 assists per game and led the team with 79 steals. But he is best remembered as the spark on a very good basketball team that ignited the Flyers to their only state basketball championship to date — that 1975 Class B title.
Facing Dell Rapids St. Mary in a battle of the undefeated on March 8, 1975, Freeman trailed the Cardinals late in front of a jam-packed Sioux Falls Arena before Pidde took over. With 4:21 to play and the Flyers down 52-44, the “Blond Bomber,” as he was referred to on the KELO broadcast of the game, rattled off five quick points to get his team close, and then, with the clock closing in on a minute, Pidde stole the ball at midcourt and fed teammate Michael Waltner for a layup that put the Flyers ahead 55-53. Freeman went on to win 61-55.
“I think Pidde just decided that if he didn’t do something quick, we were going to lose,” Keith Massey, Freeman’s big man who led the team in scoring that 1974-75 season with 17.7 points per game, told The Courier in a 30-year retrospective published in 2005.
Said Pidde in that same retrospective: “It turned in a hurry. I actually think that if we would have played another five minutes, we would have won by 20.”
Like he had been in football the previous fall, Pidde was named to the All-State Team for his play on the court his senior year, and just a few months after winning the Class B championship, Pidde and the Flyers brought home that track title.
Pidde finished his basketball career at Freeman with 899 career points — 16th all-time — before going on to play at South Dakota State University.
“Having watched Bob at Freeman, and then at SDSU where he was an extraordinary sixth man coming off the bench, what made him so successful is that his leadership wasn’t about going out and scoring points, but about making everyone around him better,” said Michael Freeman, who was a year younger than Pidde and covered the Flyers for the Courier in the mid-1970s. “He had a leadership quality that you can’t really describe, but you knew it when you saw it.”
Freeman points to Pidde’s career scoring total that fell just short of 900 as evidence of his commitment to “team” over “I.”
“He could have been a 30, 35-point per game guy if he wanted to be, but that’s not the kind of player he was,” said Freeman. “He recognized the kind of talent he had around him, and his role was to maximize everybody’s strengths, not just his own. He played the game to win, not make himself a star.”
But when it came time to step up, nobody was better than Pidde. That state championship game of 1975 was case in point.
“When he had to — when the game was on the line — he took over and willed Freeman to that win,” Freeman said. “When it came right down to it, he was always just there doing his best to lead his team to bigger things.”
Oh by the way …
Pidde isn’t only being recognized this year for his play on the basketball court. He will also be inducted into the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in a ceremony to be held at the Freeman Community Center Saturday, Nov. 6.
Pidde’s amateur baseball career spanned more than 20 years, most of which were spent playing catcher for Freeman. His career batting average exceeded .375 and he hit more than 200 home runs — including 25 in a season and four in a single game.
He will be the fifth from Freeman inducted into the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Larry Andersen (2016), Milt Mehlhaf (1989), Marlan Wollman (1996) and Joe Walters (1964).