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The Press Box For April 15

By Staff | Apr 15, 2020

Today we pay tribute to Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 October 24, 1972) who was an American professional baseball player, that became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 73 years ago.

Jackie Robinson is perhaps the most historically significant baseball player ever. Jackie Robinson changed the way Americans thought. When Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, more than 60 years of racial segregation in major-league baseball came to an end. He was the first acknowledged black player to perform in the major leagues in the twentieth century and went on to be the first to win a batting title, the first to win the Most Valuable Player award, and the first to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He won major-league baseball’s first official Rookie of the Year award and was the first baseball player, black or white, to be featured on a United States postage stamp.

The raw statistics only scratch the surface in evaluating Jackie Robinson as a ballplayer. Do to many underlying circumstances Robinson began his career at age 28 years, and therefore his major-league career spanned only 10 seasons. From 28-34 in what was considered his prime years Robinson hit .319 and averaged more than 110 runs scored per season. He drove in an average of 85 runs, and his average of nearly 15 home runs per season was outstanding for a middle infielder of that era. And he averaged 24 stolen bases a season for a power-laden team that didn’t need him to run very often.

Looking back over the years, it’s amazing to see the changes that took place in the sports world. It’s amazing to see how local high school sports have changed and progressed to provide more opportunities and events for girls sports.

I always like to think back on significant sports events in Tyler and Wetzel County. One that sticks out in my mind was watching the Wildcats Susie Gallagher play catcher for the Cat’s varsity baseball team. I’ll never forget her throwing out a River High School runner trying to steal second. Without moving from her crouched position she showed the strength of her arm and got him by a step, she followed that up with a double up the middle to give the Cats the victory in the seventh inning.

Another great memory also came against the River Pilots when D. Bosley dropped in 50 points to give the Cat’s a home win in his junior season. D. went on to play four years at LSU and was a freshman when Shaq. was a senior. Bosley was recruited by Sistersville’s Craig Carse who is a coaching legend in his own right. Keep your eyes open as we will be featuring a story on Craig in the near future.

Back in 1969 the Sistersville Tigers what many believed was the top team in Class A in the state. They got upset along the way before making it to the state tournament, however Mike Carson through down 62 points in a game and later played for the Mountaineers.

One of my favorite memories was watching Dennis “Dink” Blatt and Mike Nelson, ex-Paden City Wildcats; get the start against each other when Syracuse (Blatt) and WVU (Nelson) battled it out in 1972 in Morgantown. Both players started as running backs for there schools.

There was some historic battles down through the years between Paden City and Sistersville. One that still hurts to this day was the 1963 football season when the Wildcats went undefeated and never made it to the playoffs. That Wildcat team had a backfield of Larry Sine (WVU), Alan Pryor and Jim Haddix and Bill Bowen as QB.

The epic battles in the eighties between Tyler High School and Sistersville High still rank up there with the best Class A games in WV high school history. Tyler won over the Tigers in 1983 and Sistersville won over Tyler two years later. Thoughout the eighties Sistersville ruled Class A football under the reign of Louie Nocida.

My all-time favorite however came when Pistol Pete Maravich hit for 68 points as the Jazz took down the Kicks at home. Maravich still holds the NCAA scoring record of 44 points per game, without the 3-point line! A record which should stand for many more years and may never be broken.

With out a sports season right now, who knows what we are missing? Last year we watched as Tyler Consolidated’s Spencer Corley broke the schools high jump record and eventually became state champion. We were anxiously awaiting this springs track season to see if he could continue to set the bar. We encourage all of the area athletes to continue conditioning and prepare for what comes next.

The Knights sports complex is under construction and according to reports progress is being made. It’s exciting to see changes coming that will have positive effects for the Silver Knight sports teams. Hopefully it will all be ready by football season . Everyone keep up the good work, stay positive and safe. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com