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He wants to honor baseball Hall of Famer's gridiron stint

He wants to honor baseball Hall of Famer’s gridiron stint

Fans of Major League Baseball may know that Pennsylvania native and early pitching star Christy Mathewson was an inaugural member of the sport’s Hall of Fame – and came posthumously in 1936 with the likes of Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner.

What many do not know is that Mathewson, who played for the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds from 1900, had an initial alternative career in semi-pro football. It included a stay with the Greensburg Athletic Association at the city’s Offutt Field, then known as Athletic Park.

One man who knows a full nine meters about Mathewson’s Greensburg gridiron connection is Salem resident David L. Snyder. He learned about “Matty’s” local athletics activities while researching Walter Johnson, who faced battles as a member of the Washington Senators from 1907-27.

Mathewson “played back for the Greensburg Athletic Association from 1898 to 1900,” Snyder said. “In 1900, he went to play for the Pittsburgh Stars,” another semi-pro football squad. “Then the Giants stopped him for playing football.”

Snyder hopes to build support to recognize Mathewson’s time in Greensburg with an installation at Offutt Field.

“I think it’s fitting that Mathewson should be honored with some kind of plaque,” he said.

Snyder acknowledged that his proposal may have taken the back seat to more pressing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, he said, he has contacted local school and municipal officials, as well as sports organizations, to get the idea flowing. He hopes to attract donations to cover the estimated $ 2,800 cost of a bronze plaque.

Snyder’s proposal did not call with the current administrators at Greensburg Salem School District, who play varsity football at Offutt and are in transition between superintendents. But Snyder said many of those he has contacted about the Mathewson tribute have been “surprised and fascinated” to find out about the famous athlete’s stay with the Greensburg football club.

Seton Hill University Griffins also play at Offutt, renting the field from Greensburg Salem. Seton Hill Athletic Director Chris Snyder, who is not related, was among those who first heard from David Snyder that Mathewson had a presence at the Greensburg site.

Regarding the plaque proposal, Chris Snyder said: “I think it’s a good idea. It would be a noble gesture for an original member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. ”

The field has been owned since 1916 by the local school district, which has completed various renovations and expansions of the place over the years.

A retired businessman who grew up in McKeesport, David Snyder has an interest in sports and sports history and is concerned that knowledge of the Mathewson-Greensburg connection may “fade into the past. It is historic and appropriate to have a proper plaque.”

When he joined the Greensburg football team, Mathewson was an experienced veteran of semi-pro competition, according to Snyder.

Born August. 12, 1880, in Factoryville, Wyoming County, Mathewson “started playing semi-pro baseball when he was 14,” Snyder said. “These small industrial towns had their own teams. They hired him to play against the rival team from the next town. He could play better than any of the adults. ”

Factoryville celebrates its hometown hero every August with an annual day and festival in his honor.

As a teenager, Mathewson attended Keystone Academy, where he played football and baseball.

About the same time he was playing football in Greensburg, Mathewson also attended Bucknell University, where he was back and kicking with the football team Bison. He was also a member of the baseball and basketball teams.

“He wanted to bring some of Bucknell’s college players with him,” Snyder said.

Mathewson’s highlights as Bucknell grills included a 70-yard return and a 45-goal field goal against the Army in 1900. He was also president of his class at Bucknell and a member of the Glee Club.

Mathewson attended Bucknell from the fall of 1898 to the spring of 1901. After his baseball debut with the Giants in 1900, he returned to play football at the university in the fall of the same year.

“The qualifying rules were a little different back then,” said Jon Terry, Bucknell’s assistant director of athletics. “He retired from Bucknell in June 1901 to focus full time on baseball.”

Mathewson was inducted into the Bucknell Hall of Fame in 1979. The university’s Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium is named in his honor, and his final resting place is in a cemetery behind the Kenneth Langone Athletics & Recreation Center.

With the Giants, Mathewson became a dominant pitcher during the first two decades of the 20th century, chopping 373 victories over a 17-year career. He put out three finishes in three starts against the Philadelphia Athletics, and helped the Giants win the 1905 World Series.

Mathewson enlisted in the Army during World War I and was accidentally gassed during a training exercise. A long battle with tuberculosis ensued, and he died October 7, 1925, at Saranac Lake, NY

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