BEDFORD FALLS – Save your letters. I know the aforementioned town is a fictional one. At the risk of redundancy for naming Indiana, PA a third day in a row, however, this place is Bedford Falls – in all the best ways. Further, it’s no small coincidence that Jimmy Stewart is from here (more redundancy) and that his father wanted him to take over the family business (hardware), not continue his cockamamie acting career after returning from seriously intense active duty in World War II. Thankfully, the young Stewart stuck to his guns and his body of work continues to entertain us, years after he passed. That’s some legacy for a guy from a town that only now has a population of 13,975. His heroic accomplishments fighting for God & country 1941–1947 (Army) and 1947–1968 (Air Force) alone make for one heckuva legacy. Hell, he enlisted in the the Army Air Corps AFTER winning his only Oscar. Sounds like something any of today’s stars would do… maybe not. Anyway, all this talk about legacies got me thinking in that realm, so let’s talk about the legacy that I’ll leave behind… Wait… what’s that? Nobody gives a sh!t about my legacy? Okay. Well, um… Let’s stay small-town-Pennsylvania, sprinkle in sports and look at Small Town Sports Hero Legacies.
Ditka hails from Aliquippa, PA, which happens to be where Papa H, my father in-law, is from. His grandparents and Ditka’s parents were friends. Heck, everybody in this small steel mill/coal mining town knew each other. Different ethnicities – Italian, Polish, German, Irish – built row houses that resembled those in their respective homelands in chunks of the town, so you turn a corner and think you’re in a different European country. Mike Ditka, though, is as ‘Murican as they come and has some legacy: a playing career as a smash-mouth TE, helming the Monsters of Midway and their annihilation of Tony Eason’s Patsies in the 1985 Super Bowl, making sweater vests cool and calling Doug Flutie “Bambi.” That’s pretty good.
This guy had an island named for him while playing for Junoir Blaber’s J-E-T-S. Fer crissakes, not even Joe Namath could say that, he only got Broadway. But guess what town Revis is from? Aliquippa! That’s right, another product of this tiny town but not during its industrial heyday. Aliquippa is a mere shell of it former self. The factory jobs, like for many small towns, have evaporated due to technology or cheaper labor elsewhere. Yet, Revis proved that football is still alive and kicking here. Not the same can be said for Gang Green.
Cheesy Bruin and Grinding Ax Walt will be all over me if I leave #33 off this list. The Pitt great became a Dallas Cowboys legend, as the only Dallas rookie to rush for over 1000 yards in his rookie year. Zeke Elliot has since accomplished that was well. But get this, as a
Junoir junior at Pitt, Dorsett rushed for 303 against Notre Dame. He made the Flailing Irish look like Dames. Oh, and guess what? He’s from Aliquippa, too.
Sure, he’s not a name that Ben Whitney would have on this list. But this two-time All-Pro, five-time Pro Bowl selection, Pro Bowl MVP, has three Super Bowl rings from New England and is widely regarded as one of the best defensive backs of all time. He’s also from… Aliquippa… where coal in your stockings has a different meaning.
Speaking of stockings…
Can it be? Is yet another football phenom with a large legacy from this tiny town?! No. But you can’t not bring him up after the Broadway Joe reference above. We can all argue about how Namath does or doesn’t stack up all-time against the greats of the game. Yet, he has done two things that no NFL QB has done and likely will never to again 1) Win a Super Bowl for the NY Jets and 2) Wear pantyhose/stockings under his uniform. He also dated half of the world’s female population and routinely dunked in his High School basketball games when nobody else was. That collectively makes for a pretty damned good legacy the Crimson Tide legend will leave behind.
On that note, I’ll end on behind. Pun intended. Please have a Happy Boxing Day, leave your jabs below and come back tomorrow for our very own small town hero, Cheesy Bruin.