Sunday, October 18, 2015

Block that kick!

Big doin's occurred in the spring of 1950. Life had stabilized in the Whitewater Valley and it was time to expand our horizons.

What better way than with ...


Good old Grade-A American gridiron competition. (Soccer? What's that?)

Brookville High's basketball team had won its first sectional tournament championship a week or so earlier, but the headline in the Democrat on March 6, 1950, blasted out the news:

Chamber of Commerce Backs Football

Extensive Drive Planned
To Raise Funds To Start
Sport at BHS This Fall

Editor Raymond A. Everett had the call:

"The bark of the quarterback calling his signals, the dull thud of his toe kicking the pigskin, the yell of the crowd. 'We want a touchdown' -- all this and more too may be heard in Brookville this fall if plans now being formulated by the Brookville Chamber of Commerce are successful."

The Chamber was the driving force for developing a fund-raising strategy to outfit the first interscholastic team at the high school, citing a need for $2,500 to purchase the equipment.

1950s football uniform
"It was finally agreed to sponsor a drive for funds with a canvass of businessmen and civic minded individuals. It is hoped that a number of firms and individuals will volunteer to furnish the equipment for one player (the approximate cost is $70). Several persons have already signified their willingness to do this."

The plan, the strategy and the effort paid off. By summer, coach Jim Jackson (who also coached basketball) welcomed his first group of players. The games were to be played at the Town Park (in the valley) on weekday afternoons, since lights were not available.

On a Monday in early September, the Greyhounds played their first game against Cambridge City. The Wampus Cats were also playing their first-ever game as well.

It didn't go well for the 'Hounds, who lost 30-0.

"The Cambridge City outfit was built around Grinstead, a sophomore transfer from Florida, where he is reported to have made all-state in the backfield in his freshman year. Their offense looked a lot smoother than Brookville's and they had little trouble in rolling across five touchdowns."

If at first you don't succeed, the Brookville motto ...

The first home game was on Sept. 21, 1950, against Morton Memorial.

"The starting time is three o'clock. As most of the business houses in Brookville close on Thursday afternoon, a large attendance is anticipated. The price of admission will be 60 cents for adults and 25 cents for students."

The high school band was to get its first chance to perform, though "handicapped by poor weather for marching practice and by a recent change in music directors, some entertainment will be provided by the group at halftime."

It wasn't long before football took hold. As well, the cry for lights at the ballpark grew louder.

At one point, the Chamber of Commerce's appeal suggested that if the attendance couldn't improve, the program might be dropped.

"The need for recreation and activity for the high school age group is becoming increasingly evident. One of these activities, football, is in danger of being discontinued in another year," the Chamber wrote for the Democrat. "Many of the boys have learned to love the game after playing for three years, and would hate to see the school have to ban the sport."

The plea was somewhat disjointed, based on perceptions that could otherwise not be proven, including an estimate that the school was "losing" about $100 per game because the crowds were too small.

Without lights, the plea said, "... it is impossible for most people to attend because of their work."

In August 1953, the lights were installed.

On September 4, the first night game was played at the ballpark, with Brookville gaining revenge on Cambridge City, 26-6. Previously, Cambridge had never lost to Brookville. By then, the team was coached by Raymond Anderson.

The Greyhounds also played such teams as Batesville, Hagerstown, Aurora and Oxford McGuffey in those first years.

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