At this time in 1896 there was much anticipation as students prepared to return to Sidney High School for a new school year along with a new activity that endures to this day. 1896 would be the first season of SHS football.
Since then virtually everything has changed/evolved with football including the shape of the ball, equipment, uniforms, scoring, coaching, tactics, and even where games could be played. The “orange and black” played their first season at the Orbison farm east of Sidney and outside the city limits. In those days “ball playing of any kind” was illegal in town.
There is one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 124 years. In 1896 we had four local newspapers, two daily and two weekly, including the Sidney Daily News. Two publishers of diverging political opinion each had both a daily and weekly forum. An examination of newspaper files reveals major agreement on one area of national discussion. They all were concerned with the mounting federal deficit and felt it must be dealt with immediately.
That issue remains at the national forefront over a century later.
Hockey’s Jackie Robinson
I normally watch lots of television and that’s been especially true during the current pandemic. I’ve been a big hockey fan since going to my first Dayton Gems game in 1965, and currently enjoy both games and features on cable. One compelling story profiled the amazing Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the National Hockey League and a native of Canada’s eastern maritime area. Now a youthful almost 85 year old Hall of Famer, O’Ree is continuing his work as a hockey ambassador from the commissioner’s office.
Willie made his first appearance for the Boston Bruins in January 1958, some 18 months before the Boston Red Sox became the last Major League Baseball team to integrate. During his youth, O’Ree met his baseball counterpart and was inspired by Jackie Robinson, who joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Last November the University of Connecticut’s heralded women’s basketball team made a two day visit to play the Dayton Flyers. Before the contest I talked with their radio broadcasters in the media hospitality room and asked how they spent their free day in Dayton. They’d gone to the Air Force Museum and enjoyed it.
I revealed that I’d last been there during a fifth grade field trip and remembered a pinkish red plane from World War II named Strawberry Bi—-. “Yep, it’s still there,” one of them responded.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross authored a book on the first century of SHS football that is available at the Ross Historical Center in downtown Sidney. All proceeds benefit the Shelby County Historical Society.