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Indiana to rename street for Nance

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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

Indiana Borough will rename the street heading to its high school campus after its greatest athlete.

School district officials at the recent Indiana-Highlands homecoming football game heralded the effort to rename Fifth Street after football great Jim Nance, who was an outstanding fullback for Indiana High School, Syracuse University and the Boston Patriots of the American Football League during the 1960s.

Soon, Fifth Street in Indiana, which connects the town's main drag — Philadelphia Street — to the high school will be named Jim Nance Avenue. Since Fifth is considered a state road, state Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) is getting the paperwork done in Harrisburg to make the renaming official.

James Solomon Nance was born in Indiana on Dec. 30, 1942, and graduated from Indiana in 1961.

At Syracuse, he tied Jim Brown's career record for touchdowns.

In an era when college players frequently performed in two sports, Nance was also the NCAA wrestling champion as a heavyweight in 1963 and '65.

Nance was a first-round draft pick by the Patriots in 1965 and led the AFL in rushing in 1966 and '67. He was the league's MVP in '66.

Nance stayed with the Patriots through 1971, when they became the New England Patriots after moving to Foxborough, Mass.

He finished his career in the World Football League until it folded in 1974.

Nance died June 17, 1992. His sister still lives on the soon-to-be renamed Fifth Street.

Indiana High School officials had members of the Nance family as guests for homecoming night.

It's amazing to look back at how Western Pennsylvanians helped establish the AFL.

Nance, Brackenridge's Cookie Gilchrist, Youngwood's George Blanda and Erie's Fred Biletnikoff were favorites that helped force a merger with the NFL that was completed in 1970.

Liput dies

Sorry to hear of Lower Burrell resident Jim Liput's death Saturday.

Liput reportedly became ill while doing yardwork Saturday.

He was 54.

Liput has the distinction of being the first person to use an aluminum baseball bat in a regulation Little League game.

That occurred in 1971 shortly after his father, John ‘Butch' Liput, led a team of metallurgists tasked to invent an aluminum bat at the Alcoa Research Center in Upper Burrell.

After Jim started using the bat and hit a robust .541, his teammates wanted to use the metal bat.

Colleges and high schools soon caught on and the “ping” of a baseball hitting an aluminum bat became a sound of summer everywhere.

But Jim Liput was more than the answer to a trivia question for his family and community.

He spotted for his father in the Buccaneers Stadium press box for many years. Liput and his brother-in-law, Jay Manga, served as volunteer game officials for Burrell's youth basketball program, operated by Butch Liput.

Other family members ran the scoreboard and kept the scorebooks, making it a family affair.

Liput also quarterbacked the Bucs in 1975 and '76.

Liput's death comes on the heels of Tim Horwatt and Scott Fisher passing, also Burrell community members who devoted considerable time to youth and high school sports.

Here's hoping others are available to step up and fill the void created by the passing of Liput, Horwatt and Fisher.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.



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