Sports museum ready to open in Beaver Falls


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NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath is expected to return to his hometown for some festivities surrounding the opening of a Hall of Achievement Sports Museum in the Carnegie Free Library of Beaver Falls in a series of events today through Saturday.

The weekend events also will feature six inductees -- including a father and his son, and a team -- into the second class of a Circle of Achievement.

Autographed helmets, jerseys, game gear and other memorabilia will be in the library exhibit, said Ron Main, chairman of the Larry Bruno Foundation, which was created in 2009 to provide programs for the local community, including the sports museum.

Every year the Larry Bruno Foundation will add to displays, Mr. Main said.

Lawrence F. Bruno Sr. was a longtime high school and college football coach. His most famous player was Mr. Namath, who was quarterback on the 1960 Beaver Falls team that went 10-0 and won a WPIAL championship.

Mr. Namath, whose flashy style led to his nickname, "Broadway Joe," is perhaps best recognized as the quarterback of the New York Jets, who upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. He attracted national attention before the game when he guaranteed that his team would win.

In 1985, Mr. Namath chose Bruno to present him when he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Bruno was born in 1922 in East Liverpool, Ohio, and was a high school football and basketball star before serving in World War II. He played football at Geneva College and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1947. He passed up pro ball to coach at Monaca High School from 1949-1959 and at Beaver Falls High School from 1959-1978. He was an assistant football coach at Geneva College 1985-1994. He died in 2010.

Today, the Joe Namath Pro Football Hall of Fame Historic Hometown plaque will be dedicated at the library, 1301 Seventh Ave. The sports museum will have its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. There is no admission fee.

On Saturday, there will be a dinner at Shadow Lakes County Club in Hopewell to honor these inductees:

Bruno Campese -- A football player for Beaver Falls Senior High School, Mr. Campese graduated in 1941, served in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946, played football with Mr. Bruno at Geneva and graduated in 1949 with a degree in science, history and psychology. He taught at Beaver Falls High School from the early 1950s until 1988. He was assistant head football coach at the high school for eight years and served four years as mayor of Beaver Falls in the 1970s.

Frank Chan -- As the Beaver Falls High School basketball coach for 21 seasons until he retired in 1987, Mr. Chan's teams won the state championship in 1970, five WPIAL titles and seven section crowns. He earned nine high school athletic letters in basketball, cross-country and track and field. He played basketball for Washington & Jefferson College before serving in the Korean War.

Oscar Jackson -- A member of the 1970 Beaver Falls High School championship basketball team, Mr. Jackson was the top point-scorer that year with 496 points. He was an honor student in high school and attended Duquesne University where he played basketball. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, but a hamstring injury prevented him from playing professionally. He pursued a business career as personnel supervisor at Corning Glass Company in Horseheads, N.Y., where he provides free basketball clinics.

• Frank "Tiger" Walton -- A tackle for three seasons, he played in 1928 when Beaver Falls High School won its first WPIAL football title. At the University of Pittsburgh, he was the starting tackle for three seasons.

He played professionally with the Boston Redskins before the team moved to Washington D.C., was a coach for his high school and for Geneva College, and was a Washington Redskins coach from 1944-1946.

Joe Walton -- The son of Frank, he played high school football 1951-1953. At Pitt, he set records, including eight touchdowns in one season.

He played professional football with the Redskins from 1957-1960 and the New York Giants from 1961-1963. Then he was an assistant coach with the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins from 1969-1980, head coach of the New York Jets from 1983-1989 and offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1990 and 1991.

In 1993, he was named head coach of the newly formed football team at Robert Morris University.

Under him, the Colonials won five Northeast conference championships. In 2005, the university opened its new football stadium that bears his name, Joe Walton Stadium.

The 1970 Beaver Falls basketball team -- Under coach Frank Chan, the Tigers defeated Ambridge to win the WPIAL title, then beat Altoona and Schenley on the way to the state championship game, where the team beat Haverford.

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Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-722-0087.


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