Eugene "the Machine" Mumford
Eugene Mumford, more popularly known as Gene “the Machine” was an amazing athlete who played for the University of Scranton basketball team from 1967-1971. Gene, who is from Jamaica, New York, had offers from 40 different universities, some of which were Division I schools, but he chose the U of S.
When Mumford came to Scranton things began to turn around for the basketball program. With the opening of the Long Center and a new young core coming up, a new era of Royals basketball had come.
As a freshman, fans used to come to the games just to watch Gene and the other young athletes beat up on their opponent. When Mumford joined the varsity team for the 1968-69 season, he had an immediate impact. That same year, Scranton won its first ever Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship. During the championship season, there was a three game stretch when Gene scored 69 points.
John McCormick in a 1981 article for the Scranton Times said it best, “He could score alright. He made 60 in the 1969 tournament and scored 89 points in the Pocono Classic at Stroudsburg in 1971. He ripped in 69 points in the MAC playoff triumph at Albright.” There is a reason he is known as “the Machine”.
However, Gene was not a very loud or imposing character, he was always very composed and laid back. The media has it well documented that he was very humble about his success and basketball prowess.
When it comes to Eugene Mumford, we do not have to guess what his experiences were like as a Black student athlete. In Gene’s case there is documentation of such information. When he first arrived in Scranton, he faced some controversy over his hairstyle (an afro), the city of Scranton had never seen such “an African haircut”. However, this controversy quickly dissipated when Gene started tearing up the competition. He used to have droves of kids waiting for him after games to get autographs and he was known to play ball with the kids on the public courts. Mumford was a Scranton celebrity.
Gene “the Machine” holds the school record for points, with 1901. He was also the 1969 All East Sophomore of the Year. Held the highest scoring average per game at 28pts. Mumford was also selected as MVP two straight years, in the MAC Northern Section. As a senior in 1971, he received the Les Dickman award for most valuable senior. Eugene was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks before finishing his basketball career in the Eastern Basketball Association. Gene was inducted into the University of Scranton’s “Wall of Fame” in 1981.
Eugene “the Machine” Mumford is one of the greatest athletes to ever play for the University of Scranton and one of the greatest to ever represent the city of Scranton.