Whenever I pass by the Rosza Center on the Michigan Tech campus, I think of Frank Sinatra's melancholy ballad about the demise of Brooklyn's Ebbets Field.
The song, "There Used To Be a Ball Park Here," pretty much sums up my feelings about Sherman Gym, which was located very close to where the Rosza Center stands.
Now, if you're not at least 40 years old, the name wouldn't mean that much to you. But to an older generation, Sherman Gym held a lot of meaning.
Built in the late 1940s, the gym was the Madison Square Garden of the Upper Peninsula.
Not only was it the home of MTU basketball teams, it hosted district - and often regional - high school basketball tournaments for 30 years.
With an official capacity of 1,600, the gym also was the site of many Houghton-Hancock matchups when that rivalry was the most intense around here.
And when Chassell High was putting together its state record winning streak in the middle 1950s, the Panthers often used Sherman Gym for bigger games against such teams as L'Anse, Baraga and Negaunee St. Paul.
But it was March Madness that brought out the best in Sherman Gym.
As many as three games were played on a single night and entire families brought picnic baskets and stayed for the entire evening of hoops.
Class B, C and D regionals were held at Sherman Gym until the late 1950s.
One of my early Sherman Gym memories was watching Mel Peterson of Stephenson perform in 1956. "Marvelous Mel" led the Eagles to the Class B state championship that year, the same season that Crystal Falls and Chassell also brought state titles in Class C and Class D back to the U.P.
But I didn't fully understand the magic of Sherman Gym until I got the chance to play there. There was something special about just approaching the building on game night.
By that, I mean the long winter was giving way to warmer, sunny days by early March. There was a sense of a beginning of a new season ... which the tournaments are ... and dreams that might be realized.
After having played before perhaps 200 and 300 fans a game during the regular season, you were suddenly out on the court before what seemed like 10,000 people.
The final game at old Sherman was a 1979 district final between Dollar Bay and Ewen-Trout Creek. As was often the case, the fire marshal was looking the other way, as approximately 2,000 fans filled the place that night.
The building of the MTU Student Development Complex Gym in 1980 signaled the end of Sherman Gym and the beginning of a new era.
Now, district tournaments are hosted by high schools. And after the demolition of Hedgcock Fieldhouse in Marquette (another great floor) a few years back, most regionals are held at larger high schools.
That's been one of the worst ideas ever approved by the U.P. Athletic Advisory Council.
Tournament time is a special time for athletes, and they should have the chance to play in a special venue.
Still, I doubt the magic of March Madness at old Sherman Gym will ever be duplicated.