Joe Honored back at Beaver Falls
BroadwayJoe.tv would like to share with you a nice article on Joe Namath’s trip home to Beaver Falls. The Joe Namath Pro Football Hall of Fame Plaque was unveiled Friday in his honor, and Joe was there to receiver the honor in front of his old home town. Here’s a nice piece on the day from Patti Conley of the Times Online:
BEAVER FALLS — Joe Namath proved author Thomas Wolfe wrong Friday in front of the Carnegie Free Library in Beaver Falls.
The city’s most famous native son came home again to a fabulous welcome from family and friends.
Chances aren’t good that Namath has read the novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”
Chances are great that for a very long time, passersby on Seventh Avenue will read the words inscribed on the Joe Namath Pro Football Hall of Fame Hometown Plaque that was unveiled Friday morning.
“This is about us. It’s not about Old Joe alone, you see. This is about my family to begin with and about my friends growing up. You know, we shared in these events. Life to me is a team effort,” a genuinely touched Namath told the small crowd, several of whom were football teammates half a century ago, some were fellow Beaver Falls High School Class of 1961 graduates, many were his friends.
“It really just seems like yesterday,” classmate Gary Campbell of Chippewa Township said moments earlier while he waited for Namath to step outside for the unveiling. He and Namath played Little League and Pony League baseball together, and they golfed in Florida during Namath’s New York Jets years.
“He was a winner from day one” — a kid who always attracted a crowd; a good guy who was, at most, mischievous, Campbell said. “He never forgot his friends in Beaver Falls. You can write that down in capital letters.”
That was obvious.
When the tan and trim Namath walked down the library steps, he embraced the moment. He put names to faces. He hugged people, not air. He signed his name instead of scribbling it. At 69, Namath still exudes his Broadway Joe flash peppered with his hometown “yes sir” and “thank-you, ma’am” manners.
“Who’s this girl?” Namath asked when he spotted Campbell’s wife, the former Bobbie Shuman from the Class of ‘61. As always, she got the hug and the kiss she knew she would.
Mark Zikeli of Ellwood City didn’t see Namath quarterback the Tigers to a WPIAL championship. “I heard a rumor that when he played in Ellwood City the lights went out in the stadium and he threw a touchdown pass.”
“He was cool in high school. He was just as cool as cool can be,” Jackie Gill of Beaver Falls claimed. Her older sisters, the DiCiccios, Judy, (Class of ‘59) and Joyce, (Class of ‘62) told her so.
Namath was the only player wearing sunglasses in the Beaver Falls High School baseball team photo. He took his sunglasses off Friday when he spoke about Larry Bruno, the man he asked to introduce him at his Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction in 1985.
“He taught us a lot of basics in life that are important, not only in football, but certainly in everyday life.” Namath told the crowd. Bruno insisted that his players develop good habits.
”One of the best habits I had was coming to the library,” Namath said. The crowd laughed. His siblings, Namath claimed, made it difficult for him to study at home.
In the crowd, his older brother Frank Namath listened, then said, “That’s the second time he’s been in it.”
Joe Namath made sure Friday that his second visit to the library within a year counted.
After the plaque dedication, he spent two hours in the Hall of Achievement Sports Museum on the library’s second floor doing what he still does best — be Joe Namath.
The museum’s grand opening was set for Saturday. Members of the Larry Bruno Foundation, who are passionate about perpetuating the attributes the late Beaver Falls High School football coach lived by, had worked since January converting a used book sale room into a sports museum packed with Beaver Falls’ sports “wow” moments and memorabilia.
Namath gave credit to foundation members that include Chairman Ron Main, Beaver County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Mancini and Steve Higgins. He took none.
“I’m the low man on the totem pole as far as good hard effort in putting this together,” said Namath who came to town last September when the foundation inducted its first three members — Bruno, Jim Mutscheller and Namath — into its Circle of Achievement.
Namath went to work. He signed jerseys, helmets, photographs to raise money for the library and the foundation. Patiently and graciously he sat for TV, radio and newspaper interviews, often answering the same questions he’s been asked for decades.
He recorded a merry Christmas promo for local radio stations and a videotape message to the five athletes and championship 1970 Beaver Falls basketball team who were to be inducted in the Circle of Achievement Saturday night. He wouldn’t be there. He’d be in Canton, Ohio at NFL Hall of Fame festivities.
Friday afternoon, Namath had places to go, to Monaca, to Wampum to visit his sister, Rita, and later that night to a private dinner with foundation members and friends.
He comes home once a year or so, not as often, he said, since his parents passed away.
How’s it feel to be home? an interviewer asked him Friday.
“Great, wonderful,” Namath answered.
“We (his friends) pick up where we seem to have left off. We never say goodbye. It’s ‘I’ll see you later.’