Sayre "Firsts" First Redskin Basketball by Maryanne Mader
The football game of Friday, September 19, 1947, was not the usual night game since the introduction of night football games at the Lockhart Street Bowl in 1939. That night the new mascot was introduced to the community of Sayre during halftime festivities, starring, not only the Sayre High Band as usual, but a "band" of student Indians, portraying the Sayre Redskin.
In an elaborate ceremony, a group of young "Redskins" ran onto the field with whoops and hollers. As part of the ceremony, two of them drew a large banner with the word "Redskins" on it from a large drum, and proceeded around the stadium, displaying the new mascot name to the crowd of around 3000. From that night on, the Sayre athletic teams would be known as the Sayre Redskins.
The football team took the field under their new name in that first game of the 1947-1948 season with opponent, Dickson City, a town near Scranton, Pennsylvania. Accounts in The Evening Times relate the details of the hard-fought game even through a driving rain in the second quarter. Richard "Dick" Drew, senior halfback, executed the "first" Redskin touchdown as he went 34 yards despite the heavy downpour. John "Guzz" Latini kicked the extra point. Sayre's second score was a 44-yard run by Richard "Dick" Frantz from a pass by Otis "Ote" Gleockner in the third quarter. Others who were instrumental in the win were Henry "Hank" Mastrantonio, Anthony "Tony" Cheresnowsky and Wesley "Wes" Namet. (For a full account, see the Saturday, September 20, 1947, edition of The Evening Times on microfilm at the Sayre Public Library in Sayre, Pennsylvania or the Spaulding Memorial Library, Athens, Pennsylvania.)
In 1947, the Redskins won that first game with their new mascot, 13-6; the season's stats were: four wins, three losses, and two ties. The Sayre-Athens contest finished in a scoreless tie; the Sayre-Waverly game ended 31-7 in Sayre's favor.
Earlier teams were known as the "Red and Blue" teams, and some sports writers even today refer to the teams by the Sayre school colors.
"Sayre Search #1" The only name mentioned in The Evening Times article of those Redskins who ran on the field in the halftime ceremony was that of Ramsey Cook (now deceased), Class of 1949. For the past three years, I have been searching for the names of the other boys who ran on the field that night. I hope that this article sparks some memories among our readers of the game itself and in that way also the halftime show and we will at last be able to acknowledge, along with Ramsey Cook, those who first represented the Sayre Redskins. They had to be someone's brother, uncle, father, grandfather, great grandfather, husband, friend, or even someone's high school beau. In the best situation, one of those Redskins himself will contact me. The sports teams have always received recognition for their feats; these young men of 1947 who represented our first Sayre Redskins should also be recognized. Anyone with information about who were the boys who ran on the field as our first Redskins can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-888-1582.
As The Sayrenade yearbook advisor for 20 years, I often read accounts from the editions of The Sayrenade of earlier times. I was struck by how often the words "proud" and "proudly" were used in so many of those yearbook writeups. In fact, even with a so-so or losing season, the accounts mentioned how unbowed the team was, how the players fought to win to the last play. Today's young athletes should have information of their counterparts on past Sayre teams where they will be happily recognize their relatives' names. I, myself, experienced in my first week as a Sayre teacher in 1959 that particular pride I came to know as Sayre pride that had been instilled by family, friends, the school system and also the community in the youngsters I was teaching. They told me so, in fact. (See "The First Redskins," Part 3 in a future issue.)
Now, I would like to mention a word about my title: Sayre "Firsts"; I have highlighted that idea throughout this article. For several years, I have been collecting information in a database about some event or something noteworthy that was a "first" for Sayre. I believe that it would be beneficial to invite you, our Readers, to aid in this endeavor so that we can expand the database. Sometimes the "first" may be just one sentence; other times it may become a story. Sometimes it may be something you think we should look into. The information should be concerning Sayre, the community, the schools, sports or particular persons who are noteworthy or some event that should be remembered. The information should also be verifiable, not just hearsay. You may relay the information directly via our website, www.SayreHistorical.com; by e-mail directly; through the (real) mail; through contact with any of our members or at any of our meetings. Of course, we reserve the right to verify any information before publishing it. We all share pride in our community, how it began, how it grew and how it continues to grow. We can all participate in collecting "our" story and, most importantly, in sharing it with our public, especially our young people. At the Sayre Historical Society, we want to make that collecting and sharing as easy as possible.
By the way, did you know that Paul "Skip" Schreck, Class of 1941, made the first touchdown in the first game under the new stadium lights at the Lockhart Street Bowl on September 15, 1939, in a game with Athens. It was a 25-yard touchdown pass play. Sayre won 20-6. Lockhart Street Bowl was the first local stadium to install stadium lights. That was (can you believe it!) in 1939. According to Duane Hunter's article, "Fifty Years of Night Football" (the Sayre Quarterly, Fall, 1898) some very respected townspeople were connected to accomplishing that: among them, George Drake, Sidney Glaser, Dr. John Higgins, Samuel Kresge and Harry Schrimp. Waverly installed their stadium lights in 1948. Athens presently has plans underway. Newer members can read the complete article by Duane in the Fall, 1989 issue of the Sayre Quarterly on file at the Sayre Public Library.
Much thanks to those who so generously aided my research.
Sources and assistance for this article: Duane Hunter, Richard K. Frantz, John Latini, James Nobles, Sayre School District, Martha Davenport Schreck, The Evening Times, The Sayrenade. Photos used with permission.
The Spring 2003 issue of the Sayre Quarterly (Vol. 15, No.1) detailed the introduction to the public of the Sayre schools mascot, the "Redskin," in elaborate halftime festivities in the first football game of the 1947 season. Some details of the "firsts" in that game were also included. Sayre won that first ever Redskin contest with Dickson City, 13-6.
The article, "Sayre 'Firsts' Part 1 of 3, the First Redskins" also outlined that a collection of "firsts" for the community of Sayre was being recorded in a database and asked for input of those "firsts" from our readers.
This issue displays the first Redskin Basketball Team photograph and recalls details of the first Redskin basketball game.
On Friday, December 12, 1947, the Sayre Redskins fell short in a bout with Wyalusing by about two baskets, 36-32. That game was the fifth win for Wyalusing, which had become the newly-established Wyalusing Consolidated School and had been the BCAA champions in the previous year. Throughout the game, the score see-sawed back and forth, but the end of each quarter had Wyalusing ahead, though not by much: S/W-6/7, 9/14, 17/20 and finally 32/36.
Only one letterman, Otis "Ote" Gleockner, had returned from the previous year. (Gleockner had been one of the "mainstays" from the previous 1946-47 Red and Blue team that had helped Sayre again into the PIAA playoffs that year.) Inexperience was cited as something to be worked on for the 1947-48 season.