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Pioneers of Beaver County Sports

That elusive dream, to reach the ultimate level of a sport, was the hope of twenty young athletes with roots in Beaver County that I have respectfully named the Pioneers of Beaver County Sports, who are athletes who played professionally as early as 1882 and through 1945, the year that World War II ended.

The stories of these pioneers are impressive, given the seemingly insurmountable challenges that they faced throughout their journeys to fulfill their dreams. Their personal sacrifices and dedication to their sport paved the way for others to follow. The passion of these pioneers was fueled by their love of the game, not for celebrity status or wealth.

Many pioneers made a living working in hometown factories and businesses and during their spare time worked regular day jobs and practiced and played ball. Pick-up games were played on sandlots and grass fields, not in billion-dollar stadiums. Paved roads were few, and the commute in the early part of the 1900s was far different than it is today. Up-and-coming players and teams did not travel by planes or private jets; they traveled to sporting events by means of then new forms of transportation such as the train and railroad system. Players did not live in luxurious hotels and instead often lived modestly in boarding homes and hotels to be near the fields. Teams attracted commercial bankers and city booster clubs to help offset the cost of funding a traveling team.

Some pioneers played without padded gloves, helmets, or face guards, or any safety equipment. There were no requirements or strict penalties to deal with the roughness of the sport. Some pioneers played with the greatest athletes like Red Grange, Bronco Nagurski, Babe Ruth, and Jim Thorpe. One shared the field at Comiskey Park with five of the "Eight Men Out" from the Chicago White Sox six days before the infamous 1919 World Series. Many played in the early years before the formation of the MLB, NBA, or NFL. Pioneers played for the American Professional Football Association, prior to the league changing its name to the National Football League.

The road to success is narrow and many pioneers missed their opportunity and could not stay because of their commitment to family, a living wage, or to serve their country. Some pioneers served in World War I, and some served in World War II, and one pioneer was the first Major League Baseball player to be drafted into World War II of the more than 500 Major Leaguers who served in the armed forces, sacrificing prime years of his career. At the same time, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued what is now known as the "Green Light Letter" to encourage players to continue. He viewed the game a necessary morale booster during the nation's darkest days and a sense of comfort during those difficult times.

Some of their stints in the majors may have been brief; but they certainly were memorable and a part of the history of Beaver County sports. These twenty pioneers set their hearts upon a dream and chased after it. Hopefully, their stories of dedication, hard work, and perseverance will be an inspiration to future generations.  

LARRY ZIGERELL, President, Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame

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Pioneer First Professional Appearance

Pioneer Home Fields and Floors

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PIONEERS

Conway Abee
Joe Beggs
Herb Bonn
Ray Carnelly
Sam Cooper
Dave Cullen
Red Davis
Jerry Dennerlein
Rip DePascal
Henry DePaul
Rube Dessau
Forrest Douds
Charlie Dunn
Mack Flenniken
Herman Folins
Hyman Ginsburg
Ted Grebb
Casey Hageman
Art Haley
Max Hicks
Frank Hood
Frank Hribar II
Cal Hubbard
John Karcis
Bill Laughlin
Christian Lindsay
Al Maglisceau
Press Maravich
Thomas McCreery
Alvin Bo McMillin
Ernie Meyer
Hugh Mulcahy
Alex Pearson
Ernie Pelaia
Eugene Peluso
John Petchel
Ted Reed
Pop Rising
Alex Scassa Sr
Joe Schepner
Mike Sebastian
Howard Shanks
Jack Stirling
Pete Suder
Frank Susnell
Tiny Thornhill
Joe Tonti
James Toy
J Huber Wagner
Frank Walton
Ren Wylie
Ed Yarosz
Teddy Yarosz
Tommy Yarosz
Robert Zielinski