When the Quincy Notre Dame boys basketball team plays Friday and Saturday in the KHQA Country Financial Shootout, Bill Mass will be in the Pit to watch.
He'll sit at center court in lower bleachers on the south side, about three rows up. It's the same place he's been watching games, many of them with his wife, Judy, for the past 10 years.
Maas, 74, has sat in many different spots in the bleachers at the Pit since he bought his first ticket to a game in the Pit during the 1960-61 season when he was a senior at Christian Brothers High School. He's been a season ticket holder since the 1961-62 season, and he says he's missed just five home games in 57 years.
No official records exist, but QND athletic director Bill Connell is fairly certain Maas has attended games in the Pit longer than anyone.
"I don't like to miss," Maas said. "I just love everything about it."
Figuring the Raiders have played at least 10 home games every season since 1960-61, that means Maas has watched close to 600 games at 10th and Jackson. The first game in the Pit was played on Feb. 21, 1960, when the Raiders defeated Breese Mater Dei 74-50.
Maas has seen more than 99 percent of the games ever played in that building.
"Basketball is just the best sport to watch," he said. "Notre Dame just means so much to me, and there have been a lot of good players to watch."
Maas grew up in Quincy and attended St. Francis School, but he left after his eighth grade year to attend St. Joseph's Seminary in Westmont.
"Father Adolph was good at getting recruits for the Franciscan order, and there were six of us who went to school up there to prepare for the priesthood," Maas said.
He was at St. Joseph's for three years, but two weeks into his senior year, he came home.
"It hit me like a ton of bricks," Maas said. "I saw another light. I talked to my counselor, and he said it was the right thing to do. They put me on the train and sent me home."
When Maas went to school in Westmont, he still followed the exploits of his St. Francis School classmates as they played sports at Christian Brothers.
"I remember following the 1957 team that took fourth place when I was a freshman," Maas said. "They had Bill Kurz, John Flynn, Roger Trimpe, Bill Burmeier ... they were a terrific team."
It was only natural that he started attending the games of his friends. Maas said he had to share a 1951 Pontiac with his sister, Carolyn, so he could get to the games.
Even when he started dating his wife, Judy, they went to basketball games together.
"When I was a kid, Mom and Dad would go to the games in the CYO Gym, and I would go with them," she said. "So it was just natural for us."
Judy went to most games, but she would miss a game for Christmas parties or other similar gatherings. As their sons, Craig and Curt, grew older, the Maases enjoyed watching their friends play.
"Now we've been married for 40 years, and we're watching our friends' grandkids and great-grandkids play," Judy said with a laugh.
Maas retired from Crescent Electric 10 years ago and now is a part-time driver for the city, taking senior citizens to appointments. He also doesn't mind driving to an out-of-town game or two when the Raiders play close to Quincy, and he enjoys going to postseason games as well.
Through nearly six decades of basketball, Maas has a handful of players he considers among his favorites. Brian McNeil, Dan McCaughey, Gene Gibson, Greg Gagnon, Tim Meckes, Mark Schuering, Jason Volm and Chris Curran are near the top of his list.
He really enjoyed watching two shooters in particular.
"Brad Hoyt was a really good shooter, but he kind of ran the team more when he was a senior," Maas said. "Casey Tushaus was the best 3-point shooter I ever saw. He'd go out and warm up and just go around the perimeter, making shots. He had great touch."
He doesn't have a favorite team, but he definitely remembers his favorite game -- Quincy Catholic Boys defeating Quincy High School 67-65 in the regional championship game. It was the first time the Raiders had beaten the Blue Devils in the postseason in 11 years.
"It was just such a well-played game," Maas said.
The Maases enjoyed basketball so much that in March 1981, they took the mattress off their bed, threw it in the back of their van and drove to Champaign with Craig, who was 2 months old at the time, to watch Quincy High School win the state championship.
"We made the decision that morning. We just wanted to be a part of that, because it was Quincy," Maas said.
"We know we wouldn't get a motel in Champaign, so we just stayed at the campgrounds," Judy said.
Two of the five games Maas has missed since 1961 were this season. He missed the Breese Mater Dei game in December to babysit his grandson in Carmel, Ind., and he chose not to fight the cold weather and stayed home and watch the QHS-QND game on television at home on Dec. 16.
However, he has no plans any time soon to stop attending games altogether.
"We have friends we play cards with at the Elks Club, and they know not to expect us until after the game's over," Judy said. "You can always expect the Maases around 10 o'clock, and if the game goes overtime, they know we'll still be there."