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One. Thing. He was born in 1920 and grew up in a close knit 19th Ward. Admittedly not very good at sports. He would go on to make a name in the field. He began by selling a story about stamp collecting to the Democrat and Chronicle for 14 cents an inch. This led to a career spanning over 30 years reporting on nearly every conceivable sport. Today Bill Piers talks to George band about the Rochester he knows. Hi I'm Bill Pierce Welcome to the Rochester I know George Ben is my guest today and
George come. You've done an awful lot since that first story that you've made what eight dollars for one thing was someone I'm not sure I was seven or eight. What I did to very far it was of the story come about. I just had a feeling I want to write something and I would look at somebody's postage stamp collection and I said maybe somebody at the paper will use this and I hammered it out. Did you know anything about postage not really I don't know one another no. But you got seven or eight bucks for it. I faked my way through one marble. George Bailey got it started at the beginning. Tell us you know where you were born who your parents were a little bit about you know we've been we've been reading your column we write we read your column in the local papers for 16 years before that we know you covered the I guess the Red Wings in the air and Rochester royals and I know I mean more recently you were on Channel 13 doing sports commentary and then on Channel 8 doing sports commentary so I close.
So then he wanted his Miss USA whether they had to be out of town somewhere so I came to this town and in 66 for the first time and I watched you regularly from 66 to the present I think so. I still walk around bill on television is a powerful thing I hear people holler at me and supermarkets on the street that's as far as I go which used to be a closing night and I you know I still are sober. Well you were asking about where I came from I was born here my father taught born here where during the 19th Ward I think it was St. Mary's hospital actually. My father taught high school for 40 years at West High School in the Old West high school and taught at RB I taught accounting and business and I did none of that rubbed off on me because I still can't balance a checkbook. Never had any desire to become a teacher like your dad. No not really. Was you dead born here and in the States. No he emigrated from Ireland. I couldn't give you a date night. Was it a baby and then and I yes I understand of the original Obion which we always bring up on March 17. How about your
mom is she from Ireland. She's a local but her family was from German Germany so I had a good Irish German background. Well you were in the right neighborhood for yeah that's classic their 19th Ward Third Ward. One side of the street was the 19th and the third Hubble park. Now what was it like growing up in the Nineteenth ward and when thirties. Yeah thirties. I remember the depression particularly until things got tough when my father got bless him supported some people. And I remember shopping. You know Dad kept a job during the Depression. Yeah he was teaching then and I remember I don't know now but I know I didn't know it then but I know now that was 1929 I came home from school one day I think and my mother looked strange and kind of beat up and my father was sitting in a chair in the living room used to smoke a cigar. And he was down. It was obvious and I found out later that was the day of the crash I think it hurt him a lot. I think financially it was a big jolt but I remember that scene in his
sitting in that living room chair and being you know was terribly depressed looking. But he kept his job and kept his job and I think he did a great job. He raised four kids and we're all still around. Now what was it like growing up in the 19th Ward in the 30s early 30s the depression is on you. You make your own fun. I had three paper routes at one time one of the first had a paper here once and I had a route for both Times Union journal in the morning Democrat and Chronicle so I was a rich kid. You know I got money to spend probably made five bucks a week or so I think on a good week I mean 15 really. And I know a lot of money that was a lot of money for a kid like me. You know I learned how to play pinball machines and go double feature movies on the Madison on you and how much did it cost. 15 cents to get in and save 20 cents for four white tower hamburgers. Another nickel for chocolate milk. That was Saturday was a great day and wonderful day I was doing I was bad at nose.
Well having three paper newspaper routes I presume that was what the DNC in the t u and the Hearst paper the afternoon was a journal I think they're all American I think they follow you. Three we had three newspapers in town that I now had the debt create some interest on your part and going to work for the newspaper someday may have but I never really got exposed to any of the editorial area of the law. So I started hanging around the sports desk. Man it turned out to be a great friend Elliot Cushing asked me if I go cover a sexual soccer game which I did and he liked it and he put me on the desk. Well what was a sectional soccer game in those days. High school high school and it was. I happened to catch a couple good ones I guess but anyway I got I got away with it and they put me on a desk and I would sit for hours answering telephones and taking down some I pro baseball box scores bowling scores. Golf scores. Basketball box scores into the night late for someone who didn't like your
business or your accounting you obviously developed it quite a technique for for remembering sports statistics but I still can't balance a checkbook. I got to back up a minute where you go to elementary school I went to Immaculate Conception. Yeah which is still later and there are still there but the school is not there. Not as a church is there but the school is what since closed closed that part of the ices and you know shrinking down of the sun I want to send her a seminar I would have made a great priest at a lot and I don't think that I was going to use that Aquinas where it was seen and seen it was down on Plymouth Avenue not far from here Bill back on my Andrew Streeter and how long to you last it seemed it was three years left by mutual agreement. All right and then and then what. Then I thought about being a Cardinals I got into the baseball area and I learned that. And then you went to the wood you mean the baseball area while the only kind of Cardinal I was going to be would be on the baseball or at church.
All right if some of us are a little slow They George get yours very still Swift. Now you're you're hanging around the sports desk at the papers hoping to get a job I presume doing all his drudge work on the telephone and actually affront a great friend of mine. Don has was in med school and covering the Red Wings and also for the paper but a lot of day games and he did it full time. He did that and I sort of inherited that job from Hemel so I've broken writing Redwing baseball. I took over the job from Donna who was now a very veteran Juwan and a great funny best man at my wedding. What know what years. George I would have been one thousand forty or thirty nine. Let's just say some odd years ago I had 39 or 40. You start covering the Red Wings. Now they're at the silver stadium where they are now you know and held in 1929. Now do you go with them on the road I travel with them and with the royals for many years
you know with the royals playing at the same time all later on the late 40s late 40s. But there was a it was a great social league we had Montreal we had buffalo which is in my city was called the International League right and we had Montreal eventually we had a lot of Walsall for Newark we had a van on Miami and Jersey City in New York were on it and we stayed in New York City while I played there and it was a great travel league. What was it like traveling with the baseball players what did you do I mean things you can tell about on television. Well a lot of things you can't tell about television or anywhere else but it was fun and really it was it was not a bad life you know you you they used Pullman cars I wouldn't use the airplanes were untrained horse the writers always got the upper berth and no why's that because you were low on the rank. I remember Dixie Walker being manager here once in an op. He didn't want the whole team to fly on one airplane so he's had it split into two DC three segments and he put the regular players on the starting pitcher on one
plane and he put the newspaper writers on a radio broadcaster and utility players on the other team and I guess they didn't say no that was the play and it wasn't quite as good as the first one he sighed if we have to crash that one I don't know how you do that but it was a piece of work. Dixie Walker was the manager of Harry Walker's brother because he was a people's choice and Brooklyn great hitter. Who are some of the players. Thirty nine and forty who talk I think of Duke Markel I think he puts a no hitter on opening day and shag John C. The internationally President fell asleep in a back seat and didn't know he puts a no hitter. And there were some hurry Walker had some great teams. He had eight players and had over 300 in the same line up. So what was Red Wing stadium or what did they what did they call it in those days when it's great extent was in Silver City and not much later. What was Red Wing stadium like then. Late 30s early 40s when it was filled was it.
They had their year in 48 I think it was where they drew four hundred fifty thousand. Nobody's done that since. Unnecessary four hundred fifty thousand four hundred forty nine thousand in one season. So then the vinyl general manager then. And of course it had to be a good team to draw like that but you know now we're going to get around today to the local station flap here or the local stadium flap here and in a few minutes they will put that off to the end. I'm not holding my breath. Stick your neck out but let's see where we're taping this. Here it is March 29th I think I hope and I'm not sure when this will air but by then maybe to the Rochester baseball stadium issue will be concluded maybe 9 I hope I get it I got my fingers crossed I'm not as confident as I was very early. But there's a baseball strike also going on as we as we may be on tonight. I opened one tonight. March 29 March 29. That may end tonight. Managed to
gut feeling all right there at a point when somebody is going to crack. Well that that's another big scoop. That's a big scoop. We go right down if we had a news department joys we'd rush right down here and like or that you know. But as long as we're on the topic let's talk about the stadium which is what you're feeling about not at the location whether or not it's going to come about maybe who's going to pay for it. A month ago I thought it was an absolute sense Bill and I had people tell me that I thought were pretty good sources not to worry you know. Now after the change in the governor's office and all the hassle about the money I'm getting very leery and I think of it falls through we lose it all wind up with a Class A baseball someone. If we lose a stadium you know you made a very firm decision about the baseball strike you want to make a firm prognostication about the stadium. Now you know I just I'm just hoping I don't have my fingers crossed but I'm holding my breath on it and I'm
going to make a no Vino anything. Mine don't work too good in my mind either. Didn't see you were in the late 30s early 40s you're covering the Red Wings regularly now. Where do you go from there. The war breaks out I think I went to the lady I had a lot of fun in the Navy. I was in what we laughingly called the intelligence division. How intelligent was it was a very and I was the Office of Naval Intelligence. We know where were you stationed. I was in New York Brooklyn Navy Yard I was in Panama for two years and I was in New Yorkers that's where I met your old friend all her Winchell. Well I'm not sure he was my old he didn't really get a number to me but I remember him. I think we all those of us who were around Remember when we deal with chills you know radio wondering and I don't know how do you run into Walter Winchell. I was working at night in the Naval Intelligence very private office on Church Street in New York and went till came I was a lieutenant commander with another
Navy officer I think it was a captain I never knew he was a commissioned officer. He went to the Navy isn't going to come out and he was associated with intelligence and public relations and he didn't have the proper credentials. And when he got off the elevator I was an adult he had a uniform on and we had to phone the only one with all our eggs right. He didn't have the proper credentials for me to get him through let him through. And he didn't like that. So you're on guard I presume. Well I was sort of the receptionist. And we got into a mild argument among why you couldn't go in and at one point the captain who was with him tried to throw his rank pretty high and I had to call a Marine guard to ask him to get out of the building. I'm forgotten I threw Wind chill out on 90 church very few as you say there. He probably burned a dozen little known fact. Did you know. War's over due.
Would you come back to the newspaper I want back is that I had left when I left I was at the time zone and I came back and took a full time job with the Democrat and Chronicle was my first full time job. But it is city change any part of this program is about the Rochester you know what was downtown. What was the city like downtown after a ball when we play a lot of day baseball and I look forward to a day ball games after I've read a column and a game story and have the rest of the night to myself or our old friend our mutual friend Henry clone and I would go to Earl's girl and have a little. Libations good food and then there were places to go downtown and I would meet the rascal or some other places up in the suburbs too but there was a whole night ahead of us that we used to like I don't see that anymore maybe I'm out of it. I'm not well you make a good point. You have all these games and you know baseball games you play on the evening and the hockey is all they weren't then after the war games in the
Red Wing stadium night every Saturday and Sunday was always a day game and occasionally on a weekday sometimes double headers. Thank you. But then royals played at night too. Now when did the royals come into into the picture because that was a major royals graduated from St. Stanislaus hall a semi-pro area and to the National Basketball League. Where was St. Stanislaus hall way down Joseph Avenue a small church hall. A low ceiling. They were actually playing professional white pints of liquor for HAVE TIME door prize Seagram's with the Rochester Seagrams. That was the name of the club directly to Seeger But let's move them up higher and higher until they got into an organized league of good League the National League and eventually the NBA. Now let's mention Les Harrison played in adjoining park sports arena most wanted now. How did Les come about forming 15 what was his background. Les was a basketball bug out promoter and he was
promoting some buy programs he bring in teams from Baltimore Newark and he'd travel all over them just just for you know they play it. Knights of Columbus or St. Stanislaus and he just promoted basketball eventually got good enough to join the league the next you know even the NBA. He pulled together there was a code I am the owner and he had played himself. He put it all together. So out of this thing Stanislaus hall and these and Seagram's they came to where did they go from there. Knights of Columbus the armory sports Netanyahu remarks sports arena became their main home at the Armory on Main Street across from where you know now watch. When did they get to the war memorial. If they did I guess well they were established when I got to the War Memorial Day were I already want an NBA championship in 1950. How did they do that playing out of places like well the war memorial if you saw the nice side of the buildings
in Fort Wayne or Sheboygan or three rivers or the water more ice of these yobbery was a palace. Yeah well the sports arena was a palace compared to some of them. But let's got to go unless let's blame Stella he blames hockey on them for having gotten more on the longer the how long. Boyle's reign here. I think they left in 56 ville So they were gone and so was down and we couldn't afford to compete with the other cities for recruiting and development and I did as a MP and he blamed hockey for being for taking over and boosting him up but by the hour I think television moved him more than hockey did that was when suddenly there was something to do it might stay at home and watch TV right now. And we're in the area the players still around from the old right your thought Yeah well server is still around. Bobby wants or you know is coaching or was was coaching at John Fisher. Arnie rhizomes in Cleveland. I mean Johnson's moved away from here to Florida.
Well servers around. But the gate simply wasn't big enough at the War Memorial to sustain that kind of strapped. The fact they were too good. They want too many home games it was hard to pick a team you want to go see it wasn't in Minneapolis or New York Knicks. They were going to beat up these other teams so badly it was some words of the Aquinas problem. Now to beat these teams so badly it was not an attractive contest. Now George being you're you're covering the Red Wings and the royals at the same time same years the same years. It's got to be you get to be stretched pretty thin. I mean what happened I was driving a lot. In fact I was never home for three of my four children were first. On the road and hearing about it on the road. And right now the royals drop out. And you continue to cover the Red Wings right. You know when do the Red Wings finally emerge with a championship team after that. Well I know that in nineteen.
Forty nine of our big winners they had big winners under Harry Walker and Johnny Keane in the early 50s. They were in a lot of little World Series. And some people say you know if you win your league championship that's it they don't consider the little World Series as the apex of the system but you think Rochester is big enough for the metropolitan areas getting big enough to support any you know professional team we sure do a great job of lacrosse. Well that's on a limited basis and that seems to be instead a comeback or is that all together new is just brand no brand no for as far as talking about the night tonight hawks here. You know there's even a outdoor lacrosse serious college collegian and you got up you're away from home you're not they're not playing in a big league across here except at Hobart. Soapbox across here which is a lot more violent. I feel gross caught on like that.
Now all the other sports that you've covered every sport. George did you ever know 90s high school sports girls basketball and the head of we had a great women's basketball team here at one of our routes the filler ref What was that what were they all about. They were organized by a Major League umpire Reuven graphophone and they were without question the best there was. Now when you mean locally or nationally. Now again why is that how come we developed and they were all I call them pros and they were all tough rough kids women women. I say kids are much more in our 30s. There are just too good. Now how come the cow that I had created here in Rochester. Oh come on. How come they were all here in Rochester at the same time. Oh by Grafton organized them you brought them here. Thank you you know. Be fair so you brought him in from the best and the smoothest.
He brought in from all over the East so they weren't necessarily Rochester born and bred. Very few I think there is only one local girl on. So an example of another basketball promoter who put together a winning team and they were unbeatable. And who they played just the women's team or some other. Yeah he brought them in from all over the east and south and they were so they were professional charged admission played at St. Stanislaus sometimes and part of double headers would and would lessen teams. Did anyone ever beat them. I think I saw him get beat once. Really you know once and maybe a couple hundred games you know who are some of the other sports figures that you enjoyed your. You remember best or you wouldn't mind working with again a lot of baseball people hockey people Joe Crozier. No one has football but it would have Joe Crozier do. Joe is the coach and part owner at one time I was a Rochester Americans and he was an inspirational guy he was a you know frankly type
psychology coach. He had ways for getting his teams up like when they got into the playoffs one time but it Leahy being a former coach of Notre Dame to yeah we're inclined to let these names go back and forth realize your baby some people never heard of her right away because Crozier had all kinds of ploys. One time he threw a couple thousand dollars in cash on to the couch and I was dressing on so this is your money if you don't want to just go out there and show me you don't want it all the time you took him to Batavia Dom's for four straight nights he said I want to get him good and broke he says I'll be hungry enough to play harder and I got broke and I played they won the Stanley Calder Cup. It's Joe Crozier some of the other local sports stars that I think we read about from time to time are Johnny into Nellie Johnny's true blue Johnny's. Jon is a great person but just wasn't just a great ballplayer a pitcher he was a great person is a great person and I was partial of some executives like
bring the line and George Sisler and baseball you know divine would you know tell us a little bit about divided sister sister played professional ball for who. George didn't play with a lot. He played a Colgate and he played some minor league ball and his father was an all time Hall of Famer OK. That's the sister all over again yeah. Divine as general managers were great for the city. They both had great you know periods here you know. Tell me a little bit about Johnny into Nellie. When did you get started locally here. Johnny and I was in Jefferson High School and his father organized a semi-pro team to play get him to play with the semi-pro team and gets another one and invited all the baseball scouts in America to be here at Red Wing stadium. And the Braves signed him for fifty five thousand dollar bonus which at that time was like today it was like handing a kid
Foreman and signing bonus. I mean it was unheard of to see right out of Austin when he joined spawn insane and people like that and then he eventually you know had that great year would. The World Series would leave. George just these half hours go so quickly and I want to make sure that we know what you're doing now you're still freelancing for the good night papers Times-Union Times Union and we can catch your piece in from time to time. Now we're going to look for is what is it just once a week you want more it's column and it's commentary on what's going on. We're going to look forward to your commentary on the stadium. Good. And today you predicted the baseball strike here is well and arts and George Bay has been great having you here. I know I think I speak for a lot of people are watching you've enjoyed reading your material. You were a columnist for so many years and listening to you on Channel 13 rather gentle and you're too kind.
No I'm not and and and you've got to sign off with your famous close as far as I go and that's as far as we go George Bain been our guest today in the Rochester I know. Thank you for tuning in. George thank you for being here. Thank you for having me. But time did fly. Boy you have a good start telling stories stories are great. That. Would. Fill. In.
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The Rochester I Know
Episode Number
George Beahon
Producing Organization
WXXI (Television station : Rochester, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
WXXI Public Broadcasting (Rochester, New York)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/189-67jq2jzc).
This episode contains an interview with George Beahon, local sports reporter in Rochester. Beahon discusses growing up during the Great Depression, his time in Navy Intelligence, and how he became involved in sports reporting in 1940.
"The Rochester I Know is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations with local Rochester figures, who share their recollections of the Rochester community. "
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Talk Show
Local Communities
Copyright 1995 All Rights Reserved
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Moving Image
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Director: Olcott, Paul J., Jr.
Guest: Beahon, George
Host: Pearce, William J.
Producer: Olcott, Paul J., Jr.
Producing Organization: WXXI (Television station : Rochester, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
WXXI Public Broadcasting (WXXI-TV)
Identifier: LAC-1068 (WXXI)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Master
Duration: 1658.0
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Chicago: “The Rochester I Know; 505; George Beahon,” 1995-03-29, WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2019,
MLA: “The Rochester I Know; 505; George Beahon.” 1995-03-29. WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 20, 2019. <>.
APA: The Rochester I Know; 505; George Beahon. Boston, MA: WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from