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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

HersheyArchives@30-23 – Hershey Figure Skating Club

Milton Hershey’s letter to the Hershey Figure Skating Club thanking them for the honor of being made a member of the club. 1/22/1936

Milton Hershey’s letter to the Hershey Figure Skating Club thanking them for the honor of being made a member of the club. 1/22/1936

 

The Archives’ collections are a rich resource for understanding not just Milton Hershey and his legacy but also for the growth and development of the Hershey community. The Archives actively collections the records of local businesses and organizations to preserve the history of the community and its residents.

 

Milton Hershey took an active interest in everything that happened in his town. As  noted in last week’s blog post, when community business leaders established the Hershey Rotary Club, Mr. Hershey was made an honorary member.  Many other community groups, wishing to recognize Milton Hershey’s generosity and vision for his community, also recognized him as an honorary member.

 

Hershey Figure Skating Club members pause for a photograph in the Ice Palace. ca1934-1936

Hershey Figure Skating Club members pause for a photograph in the Ice Palace. ca1934-1936

 

Hershey’s Ice Palace opened in 1931. Ice skating and hockey quickly became very popular. By 1932, Hershey was sponsoring its own ice hockey team. Artificial ice rinks were unusual in central Pennsylvania and soon figure skaters began coming to Hershey from Lancaster, Harrisburg and Reading.

 

The idea for an established club grew out of the group’s desire to be able to rent the rink for sessions devoted to figure skating.  In November 1934, a small group of figure skaters held an organizational meeting for the Hershey Figure Skating Club . Milton Hershey was very supportive of the Hershey Figure Skating Club, providing facilities and the management support of Hershey Estates.

 

Hershey Figure Skating Club minutes, 11/14/1935

Hershey Figure Skating Club minutes, 11/14/1935

 

The following year the club formally recognized Milton Hershey’s support, making him an honorary member of the club.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-15 Hershey Bears: Champions in Every Decade

 

Hershey B’ars game program. 12/13/1933. The program includes an announcement of the formation of the EAHL.

 

Hershey Bears hockey fans were disappointed their Bears did not advance in the Calder Cup tournament this year, but Bears fans know their team is a team of champions.  Milton Hershey recognized hockey’s popularity in early 1931, constructed an ice rink, sponsored a team, and by 1936 built a new sports arena with a seating capacity of approximately 7,200 to house all the fans.

 

Hershey Convention Hall was completed in 1915, but it wasn’t until 1931 that an ice plant and rink were installed allowing the building to be utilized during the winter months.  The Ice Palace, as the building became known when the ice rink was operating, quickly became the playing surface for teams from as far away as Philadelphia.

 

An ice rink was installed in the Hershey Convention Hall during the winter of 1930-1931.

An ice rink was installed in the Hershey Convention Hall during the winter of 1930-1931.

 

During the 1932-1933 season the Tri-State League was formed and featured the Hershey B’ars as one of the league clubs.  The next season the Tri-State League reformed to the Eastern Amateur Hockey League (EAHL).  The Hershey B’ars began to outgrow the Ice Palace and as the team transitioned to the newly completed Hershey Sports Arena in 1936 their name was changed to the less commercial Hershey Bears.

 

Hershey Bears ice hockey team with ice skater Sonja Henie. 1/18/1937

Hershey Bears ice hockey team with ice skater Sonja Henie. 1/18/1937

 

At the conclusion of the 1937-1938 season the Bears won their third straight EAHL title and the United States Amateur Championship.  It was also their last year in the amateurs.  Hershey was granted a franchise in what was then known as the International-American Hockey League, now just known as the American Hockey League (AHL), in June 1938.

 

In the AHL the Hershey Bears continued to play well and reached the playoffs their first eight seasons in the league.  In 1946-1947, the Bear’s ninth season, they took home their first Calder Cup after being down three games in the series and winning the seventh game with a 5-0 shutout against the Pittsburgh Hornets.  Replacement goalie Gordon “Red” Henry, who had played only five regular-season games, allowed only one goal in the three final games of the series.

 

Hershey Bears goalie, Gordon "Red" Henry, ca1946-1955

Hershey Bears goalie, Gordon “Red” Henry, ca1946-1955

 

The Bears have won a championship in every decade since their organization.  After their initial victory in the Calder Cup tournament, the Hershey Bears have gone on to win eleven total to date.   In 2002, their fans transitioned with them from the “Old Barn” to the Giant Center, a 12,500-seat arena.  Mr. Hershey realized hockey was a popular attraction and today Hershey is proud to be the longest consecutive running club in AHL history.

 

Championship Seasons

 

1935-1936:

 

Hershey B’ars win their first Eastern Amateur Hockey League Championship under the leadership of coach Herb Mitchell.

 

1936-1937:

 

Hershey Bears win their second Eastern Amateur Hockey League Championship under the leadership of coach Herb Mitchell.

 

1937-1938:

 

Hershey Bears win their third straight Eastern Amateur Hockey League Championship under the leadership of coach Herb Mitchell.

 

1937-1938:

 

Hershey Bears defeat the Detroit Holzbaugh-Fords to win the United States Amateur Championship.

 

1946-1947:

 

Hershey Bears win their first Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of Coach Don Penniston.

 

1957-1958:

 

Hershey Bears win their second Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of player-coach Frank Mathers.

 

1958-1959:

 

Hershey Bears win their third Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of player-coach Frank Mathers.

 

1968-1969:

 

Hershey Bears win their fourth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of general manager-coach Frank Mathers.

 

1973-1974:

 

Hershey Bears win their fifth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Chuck Hamilton.

 

1979-1980:

 

Hershey Bears win their sixth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of player-coach Doug Gibson.

 

1987-1988:

 

Hershey Bears win their seventh Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach John Paddock. This success completes the team’s 50th Anniversary season.

 

1996-1997:

 

Hershey Bears win their eighth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Bob Hartley.  Mike McHugh is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs.

 

2005-2006:

 

Hershey Bears win their ninth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Bruce Boudreau.  Goalie Frederic Cassivi is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs.

 

2008-2009:

 

Hershey Bears win their 10th Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Bob Woods.  Goalie Michal Neuvirth is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs.

 

2009-2010:

 

Hershey Bears win their 11th Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Mark French.  Left winger Chris Bourque is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs. It is the team’s first Calder Cup victory in the Giant Center.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-13 “Hire the Forty Men”

Over thirty men carry a single wooden support structure during the construction of the Arena. 1936

Over thirty men carry a single wooden support structure during the construction of the Arena. 1936

 

Milton Hershey launched  his “Great Building Campaign” to bolster the local economy during the Great Depression. Townspeople found work building the structures that would eventually become some of the major tourist attractions in town, (Hershey Community Building and Hershey Theatre, The Hotel Hershey, Hersheypark Arena and Stadium) and the result was a town that offered facilities and features unheard of for a community of its size.

 

The October 1929 stock market crash launched a long economic decline that grew into the worldwide Depression of the 1930s. But the town of Hershey stood in sharp contrast to much of the United States during these years. While most industries struggled to keep from shutting down, throughout the Depression Mr. Hershey’s affordable chocolate products enabled his company to enjoy sustainable sales and profits.

 

There were good business reasons for Mr. Hershey to pursue a construction campaign when he did. Prices for building supplies were at an all-time low, and the labor force was certainly available. It seemed an ideal time to revisit building projects he had delayed for years. The Hershey Community Building was originally conceived in 1915, for example, and putting a hotel up on Pat’s Hill had been planned as early as 1909.

 

Detail view of the Hotel Hershey first floor plan. Note the support column placed in the center of the circular dining room. As the plan indicates, Mr. Hershey ordered its removal. 1932

Detail view of the Hotel Hershey first floor plan. Note the support column placed in the center of the circular dining room. As the plan indicates, Mr. Hershey ordered its removal. 1932

 

But there was another driving force behind the campaign – a more altruistic one. Throughout his life, the community Mr. Hershey built around his factory remained an enduring passion. He cared deeply for “his” town and the people who lived and worked there. When the Depression threatened to bring economic disaster right to his doorstep, Milton Hershey met the challenge with his unique brand of benevolent paternalism.

 

“We have about 600 construction workers in this town,” Mr. Hershey is reported to have said. “If I don’t provide work for them, I’ll have to feed them. And since building materials are now at their lowest cost levels, I’m going to build and give them jobs.”

 

Mr. Hershey kept close tabs on these construction projects. It’s said that when the excavation began atop Pat’s Hill as the first step for building the Hotel, Mr. Hershey watched intently as two huge steam shovels tore apart the earth. His foreman told him, “These machines do the work of 40 men.” And Mr. Hershey simply replied, “Take them off. Hire 40 men.”

 

Group portrait, Hershey Community Buildilng construction crew. 1932

Group portrait, Hershey Community Buildilng construction crew. 1932

 

In addition to the major buildings, Mr. Hershey also initiated smaller projects to provide employment while developing the community, including Hershey Gardens, new rides and attractions for Hersheypark and new facilities for the Zoo were also completed during these years.

 

Mr. Hershey also used the Great Building Campaign as a time to further promote the sports of golf and hockey in town. In 1930, he started the Hershey Country Club and retained golf architect Maurice McCarthy to design what is now known as the West Course. He also opened Parkview Golf Course for the public and a nine-hole course at the Hotel. And he introduced the first golf course in the nation dedicated to junior golfers, now called Spring Creek Golf Course. The Hershey Ice Palace began hosting hockey games in 1931, and in 1936 the Arena opened. It was the first home to the Hershey Bears, now the oldest club in American Hockey League history.

 

The addition of these attractions built on the community’s image as a center for entertainment and relaxation. By the end of the decade, the town of Hershey had emerged as a nationally known tourist destination and was called “Pennsylvania’s Summer Playground.” Today the majority of the projects that began as part of the Great Building Campaign continue to exist and stand as memorials to Mr. Hershey’s vision, generosity and dedication to his town and its residents.

 

Brochure marketing Hershey as "Pennsylvania's Summer Playground." ca1940

Brochure marketing Hershey as “Pennsylvania’s Summer Playground.” ca1940

 

“As far as I know, no man was dropped by reason of the Depression,” Mr. Hershey is reported to have said. “And no salaries were cut.”

 

#HersheyArchives@30

Skating for the Gold: 1953 United States Figure Skating Championship

What’s not to love about ice skating?  One of the highlights for me while watching the Winter Olympics is all the figure skating.  I love the beauty and creativity and greatly admire the athleticism needed to make it look so graceful.

 

Hershey Skating Club Winter Carnival, ca.1959

Hershey Skating Club Winter Carnival, ca.1959

 

Hershey also loves figure skating.  The sport has been an important sport in Hershey since the Hershey Skating Club was established in 1934.  Over the years, well-known figure skaters, including Roy Shipstad, Evelyn Chandler and Bruce Mapes have come to Hershey to work with the Skating Club and to perform in the Ice Arena.

 

National Figure Skating Championships, official program.  1953

National Figure Skating Championships, official program. 1953

 

In 1953, Hershey’s impressive facilities made it possible for the Hershey Skating Club to host the National Figure Skating Championships, often referred to as the “Nationals.”  Usually the competition is held in major cities with facilities and enough lodging to host the hundreds of skaters, their coaches and family members, over the four day event.  While Hershey was a small town, it was well acquainted with hosting large-scale events.  The competition brought national attention to the small community.

 

National Figure Skating Championships, Schedule of Events,  1953

National Figure Skating Championships, Schedule of Events, 1953

 

That year, the men’s competition was won by Hayes Alan Jenkins, who would go on to lead American male skating for four years, 1953-1956.  He also would win the gold medal in the 1956 Winter Olympics.

 

In 1953 Tenley Albright (right) won the gold medal at the United States Figure Skating Championship held in Hershey, PA.

In 1953 Tenley Albright (right) won the gold medal at the United States Figure Skating Championship held in Hershey, PA.  Silver medalist Carol Heiss is pictured left.

 

In the women’s competition, Tenley Albright continued her reign as the leading female skater in the United States, having first won the Nationals in 1952.  Her reign would continue through 1956.  That year she also would also win Olympic gold.

More information about the Hershey Figure Skating Club is available at the Archives.

 

 

He shoots, he scores!

50 years ago today the Philadelphia Warriors played the New York Knickerbockers in a game held in the Hershey Sports Arena.  At that game Warrior Wilt Chamberlain scored a record smashing 100 points, an achievement that no basketball player has ever duplicated or even come close.

Little remains of the game, no ticket stubs, no video.  Fortunately there are some photos taken by Paul Vathis, an AP photographer who happened to attending the game as a fan and who rushed to his car mid-game to get his camera equipment, . 

Game program, Hershey Sports Arena, March 2, 1962

Game program, Hershey Sports Arena, March 2, 1962

In the Archives collection, there are copies of the game program and remarkably, a recording of the last 15 minutes of the historic game.  The recording was made by an enterprising college student, a Knicks fan, who listened to the game on his AM radio and was inspired to record the broadcast on his reel to reel tape recorder.

Private or Public: Hershey = Golf Capital of Pennsylvania

 

Hershey Park Golf Course, 18th hole. 1935

Hershey Park Golf Course, 18th hole. 1935

 

 

Beginning in the 1930s Hershey became known as the “Golf Capital of Pennsylvania.”  Its 54 holes of golf (Hershey Country Club-18, Hershey Park Golf Club-18, Juvenile Golf Course-9, Hotel Hershey Golf Course-9) made Hershey a popular destination for golfers of all skill levels.

 

Hershey golf courses attracted some of the country’s best golfers. Hershey Country Club sponsored the Hershey Open a professional golf tournament for several years beginning in 1931.

 

Golf was a popular sport within the Hershey community. Hershey corporations featured annual tournaments for workers. The Hershey Men’s Club also sponsored local tournaments for members. Most of these tournaments were played on the Hershey’s public course, the Hershey Park Golf Course  (later Parkview). As one of Hershey’s public courses, the Park course was open to anyone. It was very popular with tourists and residents alike.

hershey-news-8-1-1957

 

In 1957 the Park Course received national attention when it hosted the 32nd Annual National Public Links Golf Championship. This tournament was first held in 1922 at the Ottawa Park Course in Toledo, Ohio. It was established to allow public course players the opportunity to compete nationally. The 1957 tournament was held July 29 – August 3, 1957. The tournament attracted players from across the United States, including six players from Hawaii.

hershey-news-8-8-1957 

The competition was a match play championship where the winner of each game was determined by the number of holes won rather than the number of strokes. The 1957 winner was Don Essig III who was a sophomore from Louisiana State University who beat Gene Towry of Dallas, Texas.

Construction begins

Building the scaffolding in preparation for pouring the Arena barrel roof shell, 1936

Building the scaffolding in preparation for pouring the Arena barrel roof shell, 1936

 

Tedesko realized that the Hershey project would be a unique challenge.   He referred to it as a “home-made structure, constructed by Hershey men.” Tedesko became the planner/architect/engineer/construction manager. Milton Hershey wanted to save money and refused to formally hire a construction manager. The result was a rather chaotic beginning.   Eventually, Tedesko secured the help of Oscar Spancake, a carpenter-foreman, who mobilized a crew of 250 men, 4 concrete mixers and 2 elevators. The workers had no previous experience in concrete construction, leaving Tedesko no choice but to supervise all aspects of the concrete pours. Remarkably, by July 2, 1936 pouring for the first roof section began.

 

Pouring the lower tier of seats in the Hershey Arena, 1936

Pouring the lower tier of seats in the Hershey Arena, 1936

Formwork for the sections was made up of a patchwork of standard lumber sizes, since Milton Hershey had stipulated that all the lumber associated with the project later be used in the construction of barns and homes in Hershey. The scaffolding structure was composed of over 300,000 board feet of yellow pine lumber and the entire scaffolding and formwork structure was placed on a series of 250jacks .  The pours were simultaneously started on both sides from the ground level, and didn’t stop until the two sides came together at the top of the arena. These pours took anywhere from 14 to 20 days, working 24 hours a day.

 

Workers hauled concrete in handcarts up to the roof.  1936

Workers hauled concrete in handcarts up to the roof. 1936

George Booth had vivid memories of the construction:

Yes, I remember when that was going up.  And that windowless office building, too.  But that arena job was unbelievable, the number of men.  How it was a continuous concrete pour with that kind of equipment, you had to push a truck, probably 800, 900 pounds of concrete in it, wet concrete, push it up ramps, somebody helping to pull you, pouring 24 hours right around the clock. 

 

After a minimal time  of curing, the plan was to lower the support jacks and  the forms would drop away from the concrete shell.  The first time this step was taken, Witmer feared that the structure was about to collapse.  As they lowered the support jacks the concrete continued to stay attached to the forms for the first 2 inches.  Much to his relief, the concrete shell stopped settling and separated from the scaffolding as the forms were lowered further.

 

As the work progressed, the workers gained skill and subsequent sections were completed more efficiently.  Pours were still being made when the temperature dropped significantly. If the concrete froze the structure would be ruined:

Again from George Booth:
It got cold, and Paul [Witmer] made a deal with the city of Philadelphia to have carloads, rail cars, brought up here with manure to cover that concrete, to help it cure, you know.  Today you couldn’t do a thing like that.  As a matter of fact, it would take longer to get a permit to build a building like that than it took to build it under today’s regulations. 

When it opened on December 19, 1936, the Hershey Arena was the first large scale barrel shell roof structure in the United States.  Its construction established Anton Tedesko as the preeminent engineer for such structures.

 

More construction photos available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/26307193@N02/sets/72157626672080291/

Hershey Sports Arena. . .a home for hockey and more.

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Hershey Sports Arena, main entrance. 1936

 

 

Hersheypark Arena will celebrate its 75th anniversary in December 2011.  When it was constructed it was an engineering marvel, the first large-scale thin-shell concrete structure in the United States.  The Hershey Arena established a new type of roof structure that was used throughout the United States from 1936 onwards.  The building is even more impressive when you realize that total time of construction, from breaking ground on March 11, 1936 to opening night on December 19, 1936 was a little more than nine months.

 

Anton Tedesko was a German engineer who had developed the concept of thin shelled concrete structures.  In 1931 he had been sent to the Chicago design-construction firm Roberts and Schaefer  to drum up new business for this newly patented construction method.  In the beginning Tedesko worked tirelessly with many unrealized proposals. He ran into resistance from conservative steel designers, and the harsh economic climate of a deep recession.

 

By 1935, Tedesko had professional friends and contacts in many U.S. cities including Philadelphia.  The Portland Cement Association representative, James Gibson, acted as an intermediary to Hershey Estates who wanted to build a new ice arena. The 32 year old Tedesko leapt at the chance to design the largest monolithic concrete roof structure in North America. There was no precedent for such a structure, no design codes, no established construction practices for a project of this scale requiring such careful tolerances.

 

On January 21, 1936, Tedesko, helped by Gibson, presented his idea for a huge arena to Hershey Lumber Company manager, D. Paul Witmer, who in turn presented it to Mr. Hershey. “I was somewhat startled when Witmer showed me the plans, for I hadn’t figured building such a large structure, and I had to think twice before I let him go ahead with its construction”, said Milton Hershey. Tedesko hired staff in Chicago and design work started immediately, and on February 7 he began to write out in detail the full calculations for the roof structure.

to be continued. . .

Batter up! Baseball and Hershey

 

 

 

Hershey Athletic Field, Hershey vs. Ephrata; Abe Dieroff up to bat.  1913

Hershey Athletic Field, Hershey vs. Ephrata; Abe Dieroff up at bat. 1913

 

 

Hershey and baseball have been together for over a century.  Soon after the opening of the Hershey Chocolate Factory in 1905, the community’s first baseball team was assembled by John Snavely.  Hershey fielded more than one baseball team, particularly after the Y.M.C.A. was established in 1910.  In addition to local community teams, there was also an “Industrial League,” which consisted of teams from the Knockout, Office, and Shipping Room departments (in the chocolate factory), battling the Improvement Company, Store Company, and Craftsmen teams.  In the 1913 anniversary celebration, games against Lebanon and P.&.R. of Harrisburg were featured events.  The teams were sometimes small in the early years, but the games played on the Hershey Park athletic field were often attended by large and enthusiastic crowds.  Spectators packed the grandstands to watch Hershey take on teams from Elizabethtown, Lebanon, Harrisburg, and their intense rivals, Palmyra.  The Hershey Press covered the games offering highlights as well as batting and fielding averages and league standings.

 

 

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Hershey Baseball Team, ca. 1910 Bill Murrie is in first row, 4th from left.

 

William F.R. Murrie, president of the Hershey Chocolate Company, managed many of the early baseball teams.  As a young man Murrie played in a semi-professional league as a pitcher.  He enjoyed many sports, particularly baseball.  Players were drawn from the employees and community residents.  Several players were also recruited from the Carlisle Indian School.  Several American Indian students worked in the chocolate factory in the summer, playing on Hershey baseball teams and other sports for Hershey teams during their stay. The Carlisle students came to Hershey because of a personal friendship between Bill Murrie and Glenn “Pop” Warner, the Indian School’s football coach.

 Milton Hershey even came close to owning a professional baseball team.  Although no one is certain why, Milton Hershey strongly disliked William Wrigley, Jr., founder of the chewing gum company.  Wrigley owned the Chicago Cubs, a professional baseball team in the National League.  Milton Hershey sent John Myers, owner of a Lancaster baseball team, to try to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, which would compete with the Cubs in the National League.  While Milton Hershey would have overpaid to acquire the team, Myers refused to pay the $350,000 the owner was asking.  Since Milton Hershey could not beat Wrigley on the baseball field, he began to manufacture chewing gum, selling six sticks in a pack instead of five, to try to compete with Wrigley.