Sep 10, 2012

Good News For Joe Paterno Fans

If the memory of Allentown, Pennsylvania is any indication, in about 30 years, the name of Joe Paterno should return to Beaver Stadium with full respect. Back in the 1940's, Allentown was the powerhouse of high school sports. It's football team compiled a record of 60-3-3. In basketball, between 1945-1947 they won 60 straight games, and both sports were coached by one man, J. Birney Crum. Over 20,000 fans would pack the Friday night football blowouts. Allentown set out to build the biggest, most elaborate high school football stadium in Pennsylvania. However, when the stadium was completed in 1948, Allentown High School was under suspension by the PIAA, for using 21 and 22 year old ringers on it's basketball and football teams. Information about this unfortunate misunderstanding is now hard to come by. Birney Crum's image has been completely restored. In 1982, they renamed the stadium after him. From the current school district website: Crum was much more than a demanding, hard-driving coach. He was also a soft, kind-hearted man who took care of the people in his AHS program. Crum recruited boys to go back to high school to finish their education. It doesn't mention that he recruited them back to play football and basketball again, until he got caught. Time is kind to former coaches. Birney even married one of the former cheerleaders, after she graduated. Expect to see Joe Paterno's statue back in 2042.

Forrest Gump card courtesy of Bob Lemke


ironpigpen said...

Outstanding piece of local history here!

And the transition to contemporary relevance is astonishing, as well.

This is exactly the sort of stuff that, as a young boy, I used to look for from the well-educated, highly-trained professionals down at my local paper.

The Jimmy Rollins Baseball In Uganda thing was interesting and all, but ... how much does Pravda, er, ah, The Morning Call charge for a newspaper bought at a corner store these days?

Either you should re-think your admission policy for the blog here ... or perhaps the entire sports department over at TMC should be arrested and charged with fraud.



Canary_In_Coalmine said...

Thanks for sharing some fascinating history about J. Birney Crum, I graduated from WAHS in the 90s and this is the first I'm hearing it. Can you give us some idea of how you know? Was this local lore or was anything ever printed in the Morning Call along these lines? I'd imagine the suspension would have been covered by the Morning Call, but probably not the marriage to the former cheerleader.

michael molovinsky said...

dear canary, i recall the story from my era at allen in the early 1960's. recently, i had the opportunity to confirm the story with a still lucid former allentown high teacher, well into his 90's. he was unsure if the suspension was during the 1948 or 49 season. the cheerleader was from a prominent family in allentown, whose name i decided to omit from the post.