Tribute to local sportswriters and sportscasters

(Editor’s note: The following submission is the second in a two-part series paying tribute to the men and women who has kept Tyrone residents up to date with the local sports scene. The first installment in the series was published on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2003 in The Daily Herald. The submission was printed with the permission of the author and The Tyrone Historical Society.)

Several years ago, John Harlow replaced Len Slother as sports editor of Herald and became very skilled at ‘showcasing’ standout local sports stars in print. Not only did this help to increase newspaper circulation, but it also has resulted in press exposure that has brought statewide attention to these athletes, resulting in scholarship offers, all-star nominations, and national attention. There are a surprisingly large number of Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis athletes who are attending or have attended college on scholarships that came to them this way.
In the old days, colleges and universities would have alums as unofficial ‘scouts’ to watch for good prospects in their area. Today, the process has been changed, and state rankings and newspaper clippings help the assistant coaches and others from different schools in finding prospects. John would be sure they got copies of stories about standout local players, and in addition, he’d ‘tout’ the players to fellow sportscasters and writers across the state and exchange votes. Then rather quickly, Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis players began to appear in state rankings. This didn’t just “happen.” Perhaps some of the scholarship winners have thought they did it on their own.
Kellie Goodman, sports director at WTAJ-TV, Altoona, always has had a warm spot in her heart for the Golden Eagles. A “good word” from her has helped to gain recognition for the hometown players. She’s invited to many dinners and events in Tyrone, and whenever possible, she attends.
Today, Bob Miller, of Bellwood, is the sports editor for The Daily Herald and has the daily responsibility to fill two pages with local and national sports stories.
Regionally and nationally, radio and TV sportscasters always have built up huge followings as they would weave word pictures of the excitement for the fans out there listening. For decades, people recalled names such as Graham MacNamee, who became so excited in doing the first broadcast of a heavyweight championships in the 1920s. Or Ty Tyson, famed sportscaster from Detroit, who married “Gussie” Lukenbach, a Tyroner. Or Bill Stern, who would do an entire college football game by himself, talking continually for three hours every Saturday afternoon. And those who were baseball fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, listened as `Rosey’ Rowswell and Jack Craddock talked about ‘Aunt Minnie,’ who had to raise her window each time a Buc would hit a home run. Rosey’s son, of course, married Alice (Tid) Lotz, another Tyroner.
But, back to the Bucs. Later, Jack was replaced by a young man, Bob Prince. Bob was around for many decades and also was the sportscaster for Penn State Nittany Lions football for several years after Micky Bergstein retired. Then Fran Fisher, and later Steve Jones, have done the Lions, and today, Lannie Frattere and Bob Walk do the Pirates games. And Rob Egan is the voice of the Altoona Curve baseball team.
Surely, the next best thing to being there is to listen and hear the excitement. Communications have come a long way since the times when the YMCA used to put up a card outside its door with the latest score each inning of a big game.
There’s nothing like a winning team to fill the stands. But, fortunately, there are thousands of rock-ribbed fans in this area who love the teams and attend every week, win or lose. They go to every game or meet they can, and they want to hear the games on the radio or read about them in the newspaper when they can’t be there.
It’s more fun to win, but the team members really need your cheers when the score isn’t going their way. And you must remember that those guys and gals are trying just as hard, perhaps trying harder, in a tough game than when they could win easily.
Sports in our schools and for our kids and grownups have contributed greatly to the physical and emotional well-being of a great number of people in this area. And, it’s been important that the local media should “be there” reporting on the games and events.