Irvin Schwartz’s first sports column after returning from World War II – November 1945

This is part of our “Letters from War” series documenting the World War II letters of Irvin Schwartz of Pine Grove, PA. The letters were all published in the West Schuylkill Press-Herald between 1943 and 1945. 

Read the final “Letter from War” here


In October 1945, Sergeant Irvin R. Schwartz left the United States Army and returned home to his native Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. He no doubt spent time weeks catching up with family and friends and settling into civilian life after two years away in the Army, where he faced down the German army in numerous battlefields and earned the Distinguished Service Cross.

Schwartz October 1945
Irvin Schwartz in October 1945 (Schwartz Family)

Throughout his war-time letters, Schwartz took time to muse on all the high school sports action he was missing while he was away. Previous to joining the Army, Schwartz served as an employee of the West Schuylkill Press-Herald, distributing copies of the newspaper near his family’s home on the outskirts of Pine Grove and serving as the beat reporter on Pine Grove High School sports.

Schuylkill County high school sports were so important to Schwartz, among the first things he did upon returning to Pine Grove was travel to Pottsville to attend a high school football game.

From the Pottsville Republican, October 20, 1945:

Among the visitors to the press box was Technical Sergeant Irvin Schwartz, former Pine Grove boy who assisted in getting publicity for Pine Grove High prior to entering service.

A veteran of the European theatre and holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, Schwartz was full of enthusiasm watching the game although he left downhearted at Pottsville’s loss [to Easton High School].

He said that watching a football game here in the county was in his thoughts many times during the period he spent in five different European countries while in active duty. He was mustered out at Indiantown Gap on Friday.

Schwartz returned to his pre-war beat on November 23, 1945. He penned a “sports shorts” article that was everything but actually short. His enthusiasm for his writing topic is clear and evident. Irvin Schwartz was back at his favorite post in the world.

From the November 23, 1945 edition of the West Schuylkill Press-Herald: 

SPORT SHORTS

By IRVIN R. SCHWARTZ

Through the untiring efforts of Coach CARMINE PEPE and Athletic Director BRUCE HENNINGER, another fine Pine Grove basketball team is about to begin its winter journey. To start things moving the Grovers will make one of their longest road trips of the season on Friday night, NOVEMBER 30, when they travel to Lebanon to meet LEBANON CATHOLIC HIGH but already such a large number of fans have voiced their intentions of making the trip that Coach Pepe’s boys are sure to have their share of support from the bleachers.

This will be Pine Grove’s first post-war game and will be witnessed by many men and women who haven’t seen their Alma Mater on the hardwood for as long as four and five years. Every day in the downtown stores, restaurants and other places of business, persons, young and old. can be heard saying that they will be there next Friday when this year’s edition ushers in the 1945-46 season. Everyone is making sure they’ll have a ride to Lebanon and none of the many cars making the trip will be going there with an empty seat…

JOHNNY HUMMEL, who scored 290 points during the 1938-39 season and starred on the football team as well, particularly in Pine Grove’s 13-to-12 victory over favored SCHUYLKILL HAVEN in 1938, has returned from the Navy and expects to enter DREXEL at Philadelphia…

“BOOM” ZIMMERMAN, the Giant’s first sacker, dropped in the Legion Home and looked mighty good to the soldiers and sailors back from the wars. The success achieved by the big Pine Grover was plenty to make our local boys feel proud among their buddies from all 48 states in the Union while serving their country here at home and faraway lands where dark and gloom were often brightened by little things such as that…

Pine Grove’s grand homecoming game versus the ALUMNI in December is looked forward to as the Cardinal and Gray’s most colorful attraction on this year’s card. Graduates will come here from great distances, college students will be home for the holiday seasons, and many more of Pine Grove servicemen will have returned to civvie street by the time this big game rolls around next month…

GUY BUCH, Pine Grove’s high-scoring forward in 1941-42 and among the highest scoring college stars in the entire state last year, should give ELIZABETHTOWN COLLEGE one of its best teams in a long time. E-Town will play its longest schedule in five years and will be meeting a team with considerable size compared to their own when they meet ST. JOSEPH’S COLLEGE at Convention Hall in Philadelphia in mid-January…

Eddie Kosloskie, Charlie Androkitis and Bernie Bell, all of whom played four years at PORT CARBON HIGH, were in Pine Grove for an evening to renew acquaintances with local boys they played against before leaving to form one large team to push the Nazis and Nips to a crushing upset in far away stadiums…

A brother of CARMINE PEPE now has charge of the entire sports section of a large newspaper and in addition has a 15-minute sports talk on the radio each evening…

GUY WHITE, star center on the 1942-43 quintet and more recently a paratrooper in France, Holland and Germany, is home and preparing lor the Alumni game. Also seen in the Pine Grove gymnasium many times are STERLING MERKEY. a regular guard on the 1943-44 aggregation and GEORGE ZIMMERMAN of the 1942-43 club. Zimmerman is in the Navy but is stationed at a base in Maryland which enables him to come home frequently…

MARTIN WIXTED, who is known to many Pine Grove followers for his accuracy in covering our. football, basketball and baseball games years ago, has returned from ITALY and has been discharged. He says he intends to cover most of POTTSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL’S games and as many more as he possibly can.

The various basketball and baseball championship banners hanging in the Pine Grove gym and the trophy case just outside the main door all are admired by servicemen visiting PGHS after coming home from World War II. Most of them were acquired while a majority of the town’s sons and daughters were away….

The love that, Pine Grove still holds for football was well shown when local people every Friday night and Saturday afternoon during this season traveled to POTTSVILLE, MINERSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL HAVEN and PORTER TWP. to see those schools play their games. This column saw Pine Grove excellently represented at the Pottsville-Easton. Schuylkill Haven-Pottsville Catholic, and Pottsville-Tamaqua games, and six local persons witnessed the Hazleton-Pottsville tilt at Harmon-Giest Stadium in Hazleton last Friday night. And the large groups of kids lugging the pigskin in narrow alleys, in lots and on the high school field after school hours and over the weekends brings the thought that the sport will be back on the program soon…

When asked how this year’s cagers shape up in his mind, CARMINE PEPE remarked, “If we won two or three games, we’re lucky.” However, the fans aren’t taking the statement too hard since they easily recall that during the past two years when the Cardinal and Gray won the championship twice in a row, the Pine Grove leader said the same words…

EDDIE KREISER, the cage captain in 1939-40, has returned from Germany and is back in civvies…

Through the direction of MISS SNYDER, the girls’ physical education instructor, Pine Grove’s pretty CHEERLEADERS are rehearsing daily and will greet the opening game at Lebanon with a series of new cheers and songs.

EUGENE STAGER, who played four years of varsity baseball up until his graduation in 1942, is also back from the battlefields. Stager flew on a B-24 Liberator bomber from bases in ITALY where he was with the U. S. 15th Air Force…

BRUCE HENNINGER, in addition to his duties as director of athletics, is again the Jayvee coach and spends a good three hours with the Junior Varsity boys each day. His aggregation will play in the preliminary attraction at LEBANON on the 30th and hopes to get off this season in amazing fashion. Henninger is at present doing all he can to have this year’s teams, cheerleaders, etc., transported by bus, and if the idea rests in his capacity, Pine Grove will again ride in comfort for the first time since the war.

According to reports from Palmyra, “WIP” LONGSDORF, former Pine Grove High track and football star, is on his way home from the European theatre where he served as physical education advisor. Before going away “W” was head coach at PALMYRA HIGH SCHOOL…

A touch football game at the high school field on Saturday morning was interrupted when a pilot of a P-47 THUNDERBOLT fighter plane put on an air show right over town for the downtown shoppers. It was later discovered that the airman was a hometown boy, CLARENCE MOYER, F.O. from Paradise. Moyer flew his P-47 from a base in North Carolina and landed at Middletown, from where he came home by bus. Moyer, a graduate of Pine Grove High School, spent Saturday night with his local friends, and tells them that he’ll be flying home to see this year’s big games.

CLARENCE BROMMER, who played football and basketball until his graduation in 1940, saw Pottsville’s fine grid team in action while home on furlough from the Army.

GUY HEINBACH, last year’s great star of basketball and baseball, writes that he likes the army but would rather be at home in the stands for the winter months. He expects to see some of the games and the rest he’ll follow by the newspapers and letters from the people here in Pine Grove. …

One more thing that will be appreciated by the ex-servicemen going to’ games for the initial time in many years is the new ELECTRIC SCOREBOARD and CLOCK. It is far superior to the old-fashioned one which was operated by hand on a much slower basis…

Among the experienced boys back on Coach Henninger’s Jay Vees are WILHELM, HAND, REHRER, HIKES, DAUBERT, SNYDER, HUGHES and SPITTLER. Last year the Little Grovers handed a favored Lebanon Catholic quintet a 37 to 10 shellacking, and next week the same boys will be trying to duplicate the feat…

Unable to find sufficient time to go to the barber shop due to the unlimited number of hours he spends on his basketballers, COACH PEPE was forced to ask a local barber to come to the Pepe residence at 10 o’clock at night after the Pine Grove mentor had returned from the high school…

LARRY HAND of the Jay Vee squad works in the local American Store on his Saturday holiday from school…

According to the latest reports this year’s ALUMNI team will be the strongest ever to face the school’s varsity in the history of the school. Among the star names to appear in the Alumni lineup will be WHITE, BUCH, KREISER, HUMMEL, REED, ZIMMERMAN, MERKEY and AUNGST.


Featured Image: The headline of Schwartz’s November 23, 1945 “Sport Shorts” article.

This is part of a series titled: “Letters from War.” Read more of the letters written by Irvin Schwartz during World War II


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2 thoughts on “Irvin Schwartz’s first sports column after returning from World War II – November 1945

  1. Hi Jake, My husband Ed and I just watched the segment on WNEP concerning the publication of my father’s letters from the war . My family and I want to thank you again for the time and effort you have put forth to make this project possible. Words cannot express how much this has meant to us. Sincerely, Sharon Lehr

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sharon – thank you! You and your entire family are truly wonderful people. And though I never had the chance to meet your parents, I feel so connected to you all through this project. It’s been an honor to be able to help share your father’s letters and to share his incredible gift for writing/journalism. I’m excited to meet you all in person in the near future! – Jake

      Like

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