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Category:  Did You Know?
Published:  October, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know that Uniontown’s rabid baseball fans used to stand along city streets to get up-to-the-minute reports of World Series games?

Unlike today, when you can learn every detail (including those that are meaningless) of every play through radio, television and by using computer technology, back in the 1920’s, fans would gather outside of newspapers offices and have the reports relayed by a megaphone.

The October 5th, 1920 edition of the Uniontown Morning Herald carried the front page notice that fans could go to the offices of the Herald and the Uniontown Genius and witness “every ball, strike, foul, play, etc.” through its special hook-up with the Associated Press – for the World Series between Brooklyn and Cleveland.

“So come to the Herald today at one o’clock and follow the game,” the notice said.

Did you know that while Connellsville native Johnny Woodruff’s most famous accomplishment was in winning the 800 meter run during the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin, a few days later he did something in London, England that he failed to do in Berlin?

He helped set a world record.

Woodruff’s Olympic gold medal performance of 1:52.9 was nearly three seconds off the world record (1:49.8) pace at that time.

But at the British Empire Games, which was held more than a week later, on August 11th, 1936, Woodruff was part of a two-mile relay team that shattered the world record for that event by nearly six seconds.

A few weeks later Woodruff, on September 7th, was greeted by thousands of fans along a parade route through the streets of Connellsville.

But Woodruff still had at least one more highly publicized appearance (and performance) in Connellsville.

Nearly two years later, on September 9th, 1938, the Connellsville High School Cokers played their first football game in their newly lighted stadium.

2,700 fans flocked to the stadium as Connellsville joined the high schools that were adding floodlights – and night football games – for the first time.

In October of 1938, when Uniontown played their first night game in what was known, at the time, as Hustead Field, they invited future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White to see it - and they shot off fireworks at halftime.

In Connellsville, during the halftime festivities, Johnny Woodruff and his Pitt teammates ran an exhibition 880 yard run.

By the way, the first high school night football game in the Eastern United States was thought to have taken place in September of 1929 at New Castle (Pa.) High School.

According to the September 21st, 1929 edition of the New Castle News, more than 12,000 people turned out to witness that first night football game.

Night football is one thing, but playing football on Sunday was quite another. Did you know that a group of Connellsville ministers once filed a lawsuit to stop football from being played on Sundays?

In the November 30th, 1923 edition of the Cumberland (Md.) Evening Times, it was reported that several ministers had claimed that 24 members of the Connellsville Elks Tornadoes football team had caused a “breach of the peace” by playing football games on Sundays.

Those games had been played outside of Connellsville at Limestone Hill. But a Uniontown Alderman, J.J. Michael, dismissed the charges, because the ministers had not proven the games had annoyed the people who lived near them.

Did you know that long before there was American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Star Search, The Gong Show, or even Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour, there was Major Bowes Amateurs?

As wildly popular as American Idol is today, Major Bowes Amateur was equally popular in the 1930’s.

So, when Major Bowes took his Amateurs to Uniontown’s State Theatre in November of 1935, it was the source of enormous interest throughout the city.

Mayor William Hatfield proudly designated November 25th Major Bowes Day. “I believe Major Bowes is making a sincere effort to afford hope and opportunity for thousands of boys and girls in this country who, otherwise, would be unable to employ their many and varied talents,” he said.

But what was more fascinating was how numerous local businesses trumpeted Major Bowes’ visit. Uniontown Paint & Glass Co. was among the businesses that had filled a full page of Major Bowes related ads. “We Welcome You Major Bowes Amateurs – and may we add that – an amateur can do a professional job with Waterspar Enamel,” said their ad.

The Fayette Drug Co. was located next to the State Theatre. So, it took out an ad to announce that its Colonial Room, was the “finest eating place in Pennsylvania,” especially since the Major Bowes Amateurs had chosen it as its “dining headquarters.”
Did you know that Fayette County’s men could have made use of a certain “male enhancement product” as early as the 1890’s?

That’s true, and I’ll explain that next week.