Saturday September 11, 2021 | 12:58
All kinds of birthdays, anniversaries and milestones galore are part of late summer and fall 2021.
For starters, the greatest football season in AK history dates back 75 years to 1946, when the region produced WPIAL champions in all three divisions. New Kensington won Class AA, Springdale Class A, and East Deer Class B. If you count the Allegheny River as a political boundary, this is the only time three WPIAL champions have come from geographically contiguous schools.
• This marks the 60th anniversary of Fox Chapel High School. The Foxes played their inaugural football season by resuming the program from Aspinwall High School and held their home games at Aspinwall Stadium until the new O’Hara High School was built shortly thereafter.
Aspinwall Stadium, on the west side of the Highland Park Bridge, is now divided into two youth baseball fields.
Fox Chapel is named after the German settler John Fox, who came to the area in 1831. His daughter, Eliza Fox Teats, donated land in her father’s name in 1892 to the Protestant Methodist Church to build a ” Chapel “.
The current site of Fox Chapel High School was once the Pittsburgh area’s first airport, Rodgers Field. Legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart crashed her plane at Rodgers Field in 1929.
Fox Chapel won their first football game on October 6, 1961, a 7-6 decision over Pine-Richland.
Fox Chapel’s PIAA basketball title victory in 1977 was the first time a school in Alle-Kiski Valley has won a state hoop championship.
• Plum’s Mustangs Stadium opened 60 years ago and has been renovated several times since. The first game there on September 8, 1961 was a 34-6 loss to Arnold. Plum played at Pivik Field on the Friday afternoons before that.
• AK Valley’s finest sports venue, Oakmont Riverside Park, opened on September 23, 1961 when the Oakmont Oaks defeated Shady Side Academy, 25-6, under coach freshman Chuck Wagner.
• It also marks the 100th football season at Freeport High School. The school has won 563 games as of 1922, far more than any other local school. Freeport is reportedly considering observing football’s 100th anniversary in 2022.
• Deer Lakes will play its 500th football game on September 24 when the Lancers host Valley. Deer Lakes went 6-3 in 1969, its inaugural season.
• This is the 50th anniversary of Kiski Area’s only WPIAL title, a 16-8 victory over Thomas Jefferson on November 27, 1971. What was also important was the fact that this was the first time the WPIAL was playing in the playoffs among undefeated teams. So far, only the two undefeated teams with the most Gardner ranking points have entered a win-win contest.
The “ping” celebrates its 50th anniversary
And let’s not forget the invention of the aluminum baseball bat 50 years ago at the Upper Burrell ALCOA Tech Center.
John “Butch” Liput, better known now as the presenter of Burrell, led a team of seven steelworkers to produce an aluminum bat that would mimic a wooden bat.
The invention became necessary when a plague struck the forests of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The northern white ash trees that produced wooden bats were endangered.
The first bat was approved by Little League International as it met the weight and size requirements.
Butch’s son, the late Jimmy Liput, used the bat in a Little League game on July 15, 1971 and landed four home runs, spawning an American tradition that quickly aided youth baseball programs, high schools and colleges.
Tags: Deer Lakes, Fox Chapel, Kiski Area, Plum, Riverview