Semi-pro football subject of cover story in Sayre Quarterly
SAYRE – Semi-pro football in Sayre in the 1940’s is profiled in the Fall issue of the Sayre Historical Society’s Quarterly history magazine. The story include a series of photographs donated by Guy Liguori that includes several of his father, Augie Liguori, who played on the Sayre Boosters.
CAPTION: An action picture from the 1940’s shows the Sayre Boosters, a semi-pro football team from Sayre. (Augie Liguori Collection)
A Sayre-built model engine and tender from 1939 called the General Sullivan is featured in the center section of the booklet which also includes stories on Sayre singer Johnny Arcesi, former Sayre coach Ray Welsh and the 45th reunion of the Sayre Class of 1940.
The Quarterly, published four times a year, is mailed to historical society members as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at Carl’s News Stand in Sayre and the historical society museum located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre. Museum hours are Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m.
The Sayre Boosters was comprised on “former high school stars,” according to a November 21, 1941 issue of the Sayre Evening Times. One newspaper account highlights a hard-fought 12-7 win over a strong Cortland team that “lost only a single game in the past two seasons and is highly rated in Central New York semi-pro circles,” the newspaper stated.
Well-known names from the Valley sporting world included John Oliski, Augie Liguori, Sam Copie, Arnold Cochi, Nicholas Onofre, Dominic Pace, Vern Casselbury and more, according to the Times account.
In the late 1940’s, the team was called the Valley All-Stars and included many World War II veterans, according to the October 2, 1948 Evening Times. The roster of a competing team called the Elmira Gliders featured a former professional player and former college players from Cornell University and Ithaca College, stated the October 2, 1948 newspaper.
The story on Sayre singer Johnny Arcesi plots the rise of a young boy from the East Side who picked up extra change singing and even won a local talent contest held at the Sayre Theater.
Arcesi worked freelance for a number of bands including Joe Venuti’s Orchestra in the 1930’s. Venuti was known as one of the the world’s greatest swing violinist. A biographical account of Arcesi’s life by historian Autumn Lansing, documents the interesting ups and downs of the talented local singer.
Arcesi later performed under the name Don Darcy. He visited the Valley in 1939 after finding a measure of success in the entertainment world.
In one record company promotional effort, over seven thousand letters were received by Arcesi from Detroit area fans after his song “Prisoner of Love” was broadcast on the radio, according to Lansing.
In the story on Ray Welsh, the former Sayre coach from 1933 to 1942 is profiled by longtime Sayre sportswriter Paul Seibel. Welsh was also at one time a running coach and recruiter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers. He also wrote a book called Baseball on the Run: A Manual for Players, Coaches and Managers. A signed copy in the museum’s collection is written to the Times’ Siebel. Under Welsh’s coaching, Sayre won eight league titles in basketball and two District 4 PIAA track titles, according to an account by the Evening Times.
Several photographs from the 45th class reunion of the Class of 1940 are included from a recent donation of items by Kathleen Kunkler, daughter-in-law of Ed and Margaret (Castiglione) Kunkler.
An October 1, 1968 advertisement for Brotan’s on Desmond Street announces a “compete stock of Boy Scout uniforms, equipment and literature.” The ad was provided by Jim Nobles for the new exhibit at the museum on “A History of Scouting in Sayre.” The display will run through December 22.
The Sayre Historical Society will be hosting Model Train Day on Saturday, November 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Railroad memorabilia vendors, railroad artist James Mann and a special display on Lionel trains will be featured. Admission is free.
The Sayre Historical Society is a member-supported, non-profit organization and a recipient of funding from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.