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Old Marshall Field House Remembered

February 12, 2012
Jim Cochran , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Moundsville native Sonny Allen told me Friday morning that it was an honor to have had the opportunity to participate in a press conference, along with the legendary Hal Greer, in conjunction with a weekend farewell to Huntington's Veterans Memorial Field House where both played in late 1950s, and where Allen began a coaching career covering six decades.

Although he participated in more than 1,000 press conferences during his coaching career, this is the one he will always remember, Allen stated, as he and Greer, who were Marshall teammates for three seasons, hadn't seen each other for more than 30 years.

While Greer, who grew up in Huntington and broke the state's color barrier in sports when he enrolled at Marshall, was at first reluctant to return, having suffered a stroke eight years ago, Allen said he literally started packing his bags for his return when he learned of the event.

Allen said, "Hal was very glad he came back, he had that same smile and wit I knew during our playing days at Marshall."

Greer played in the NBA for 15 years, and in 1966, the NBA's 50th anniversary, was named one of top players in the league.

Allen and Greer were among some 100 former basketball players who returned for the festivities for the Field House, and it was only fitting that Allen was chosen as one of the coaches for the alumni game as after his freshman coaching days at Marshall, he coached at Old Dominion, SMU and Nevada, before closing out his coaching career in the professional ranks in both WNBA and NBA which involved 996 games. Allen was one of 13 Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame members who took part in this past weekend's event.

In addition to the alumni game, there was a salute to military veterans, along with a silent auction of items from the Field House, such as seats, bankboards and scoreboards.

The building was constructed in 1950 and served as Marshall's home court until 1981, when the current Cam Henderson Center opened its doors.

The Field House served the Huntington area and the state for other events including Golden Gloves Boxing Tournaments. Many of these events featured Don Young and Gene Young of Moundsville.

The West Virginia Catholic Basketball tournament was held there for many years, and among those competing was Pancho Flores of Moundsville, who played for Wheeling Central. He was a MVP player in the tournament one year.

Also, it was at Veterans Memorial Field House that the 1966 Moundsville High School basketball team played in the state finals, losing to Dunbar in the championship game. The team was coached by Joe Pelaez and was led by Bob Hummel. I spoke with Hummel, a Scholastic All-American that year, on Thursday, and he remembers the two games there very well. Hummel scored 45 points in the victory over Richwood, and 34 against Dunbar. At one time, before the 3-point shot, the 79 points was a record for the semi-final and finals of the state tourney.

Oh, by the way if you don't know, Veterans Memorial Field House will soon give way to the wrecking ball as it will be razed and Marshall University, the new owner of the property, will turn it into a soccer complex.

The Strand Theatre Arts Council needs your help!

Each summer the Strand Theatre Preservation Society chooses a production on behalf of the community. Actually, the community makes the determination.

For this summer's production the STPS is asking the community to choose between "Bye-Bye Birdie" and "Gypsy." Votes can be cast by visiting the website,, or at one of the locations in Moundsville: the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce office, Moundsville Pharmacy or Perkins Restaurant.

While on the subject of the Strand, this will be the third month for the showing of movies for the youth. During the past two months the movies have provided many with the opportunity to recollect fond movie memories from years past, while for others it was the first time they had been inside the theater. This month's movie will be, "Spy Kids," to be screened at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday, sponsored by Glen Dale Medicine & Pediatrics.

Members of the STPS believe that the showing of children's movies on Saturdays will give the community an opportunity to have fun along with providing family entertainment.

Also, at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, Illusionist Mario Orsini will be performing his new show, "Magic is more an Illusion.'"

The 90-minute show will feature large-scale illusions, mind-reading, impossible predictions, comedy and audience participation. Orsini will be assisted by Miss West Virginia USA 2012 Andrea Rogers.

Moundsville resident Jim Stultz, vice president of human resources at West Liberty University, will be the speaker for the monthly WLU/Marshall County Breakfast Club to be held at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at Moundsville's Perkins Restaurant and Bakery.

All alumni and friends of WLU are invited to attend the "Dutch Treat" event.

Those planning to attend may RSVP by email to or by calling 304-336-8301. Walk-ins are also welcome.

The 35th annual Cameron High School FFA Chapter's Ham, Bacon and Egg Show will be held March 7 at the Chesapeake Energy Building at the Marshall County Fairgrounds in Moundsville. The sale will begin at 6:30 p.m. Members of the FFA chapter invite the public to attend the event. For more information call either Mark Jochum at 304-845-0223 or the high school at 304-686-3336 and ask for Mr. Weekly.

The 15th annual Young Life Basketball Tournament will be held March 19-22 and March 26-29 at Moundsville Middle School. There will be two divisions, high school and adult, and it will be a double elimination event.

All proceeds from the tourney will be used to help students attend YL summer camp.

Registration forms and information can be obtained by calling Doug Pettit at 304-845-3792 or (304) 639-0792.

Marshall County Schools is now making appointments for their free universal pre-kindergarten program. Children who turn four years old prior to Sept. 1 are a part of this schooling. Parents or guardians are to call their local school to set up appointments.

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