Share This Page

Bridgeville History Center exhibit features coach's scrapbook from 1931

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

We have finally managed to pull together the constituents for an exhibit at the Bridgeville History Center focused on sports in the local area. It follows a very well received exhibit on Bridgeville Area Schools, an exhibit that established a model for its successors.

Much of the material being displayed is from the Bridgeville Area Historical Society's archives; it has been re-arranged to make it accessible to the general public. The society hopes that exhibits of this type will encourage visitors to take advantage of the large number of items the society has archived.

A particularly valuable source of material being displayed can be found in a collection of scrapbooks. The society is extremely fortunate to have acquired a scrapbook Coach Neil Brown kept when he was in Bridgeville. Coach Brown came here in 1931 following graduation from Grove City College and served as an assistant coach until taking over as head coach for football and basketball in 1933.

Brown left Bridgeville after the 1942 basketball season for the head coaching assignment at the new Har-Brack Union High School. After six successful years there, he went to Clairton High School, producing many outstanding teams there before retiring. The Clairton football stadium is named in his honor.

His scrapbook is especially valuable since the number of local sports fans who remember that era is rapidly dwindling. It is fascinating to read about Smiles Perkins and Perry Hackley, “the Touchdown Twins,” and of the basketball exploits of Tay Malarkey and his teammates. Brown's football teams in 1940 and 1941 were outstanding, probably the equal of the three championship teams in the decade that followed.

My brother's scrapbooks from the late 1940s and early 1950s provide an excellent record of Bridgeville High School sports in those years; a scrapbook kept by Ray Witsel does an equally effective job of the years following them. The exhibit also includes copies of the pages in a scrapbook kept by Sam David's family, chronicling his impressive career playing basketball and baseball at many levels.

A number of prominent local figures are remembered with individual posters, including Sam David. One features Buff Donelli's remarkable career, including the fact that he is the only person to coach an NFL team (the Steelers) and a college team (Duquesne) concurrently. Huck O'Neil's career included stops at BHS, Duquesne, Notre Dame, the Steelers, the Calgary Stampeders, the Montreal Alouettes, and the New York Titans; it is the subject of a poster.

Another poster features Coach Bob Hast and his remarkable record at BHS. He came here in 1947 after playing football at Duquesne and Columbia, inherited a team that had lost all of its games the previous year, and ran off a winning streak of 25 games, including two WPIAL championships. Paul Danilo's National Soccer Hall of Fame career and Suzy Semanick's Olympic ice dancing exploits also are memorialized by posters.

During much of my early career as a sports fan I was influenced by Bill Winstein's sports cartoons in the Pittsburgh Press. A poster dedicated to him presents numerous examples of his work, including a marvelous depiction of the stars of the 1949 championship team — Lou Cimarolli, Ken Beadling, and Anthony Capozzoli.

There are posters commemorating the three championship high school football teams – 1942, 1948, and 1949 – each including formal team pictures of all the players on the teams. A very interesting poster records the scores of all the games that Bridgeville High School played, from 1921 through 1959. Compiled by sports statistician Roger Saylor, the tabulation also includes his power rating for each team.

There is a poster dedicated to soccer stars including Olympian Burke Jones, Dave Kasper, and the three BHS 1950 graduates who played for strong Penn State teams — Bob Harris, Bill Norcik, and Emil Borra. Another poster recognizes BHS alumni who played football for a variety of college teams.

The exhibit was planned and implemented by a committee of my “Octogenarian Brunch Club” associates — Dale Deblander, Russ Kovach, my brother Joe, and me. We hope that it achieves two objectives.

First, that visitors to the exhibit recognize that the items being displayed are a small fraction of the sports heritage of this area, and that they take advantage of the center's resources to learn more about individual topics. Second, we hope the exhibit will motivate visitors to loan or donate relevant items to the display. The history center is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

John Oyler is a columnist for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-343-1652 or joylerpa@comcast.net.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.