Greensburg grad approaches anniversary of 1st TD during televised game
Bobby Brooks made history in high school and college.
The 1936 Greensburg High School graduate anchored the mile relay that set a record that stood for more than 40 years.
But a more notable accomplishment is all his. He was the first college player to score a touchdown on TV.
That occurred 80 years ago when NBC broadcast the Waynesburg College-Fordham game Sept. 30, 1939, at Triborough Stadium on Randall Island, N.Y.
Brooks, a running back, ripped off a 63-yard touchdown early in the game. But Fordham, a preseason pick to win the national championship, won 34-7.
There was only one camera used during the broadcast, compared to the 12 to 20 deployed during a typical game nowadays.
Those who could afford a $600 TV set (which would be $11,000 today) could watch the game. It was viewed in a 50-mile radius, reaching more than 1,000 sets in the New York area.
“He was a special athlete,” former Tribune-Review sports editor Howard “Huddie” Kaufman said of Brooks, who also scored a notable touchdown in a 7-0 victory over Wilkinsburg. “My dad took me to the Wilkinsburg game, and I remember the touchdown. Bobby was an excellent track star. He also owned the 40-yard dash record for years.”
Waynesburg alumnus John Stefanik played in the game and said facing Fordham was a “historic challenge” in a Tribune-Review story on Oct. 4, 2009.
“We were simply overmatched,” Stefanik said. “They had several All-American players, and they were a big-time football team at the time. It was a tough game, and they had larger players and a larger squad.”
Stefanik, who later served as an assistant coach at Greensburg High from the 1940s to the 1960s, died at age 91 on Oct. 6, 2010.
Waynesburg coach Frank Wolf started the 1944 season as coach of Greensburg High.
Brooks was on the 1935 Greensburg team that went 9-0.
“When I met him years later, Brooks was also an outstanding softball player,” Kaufman said. “But he’ll always be remembered for scoring the touchdown against Fordham.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .