100th anniversary of football champship remembered
By Greg Gulas
A little more than a century ago, the Youngstown Patricians were a local professional football team, founded by St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Parish and brought together by its men’s organization, the Patrician Club.
Set to begin play in 1911 under the direction of Father Charles A. Martin, the goal was to provide recreational enjoyment for its Parish boys.
By 1914, the team became such a competitive force that it began to recruit some of the region’s top athletic talent while playing some of the very best semi-professional and professional teams from the Ohio and Pennsylvania area.
In 1915, the Patricians were members of the newly-formed Ohio League. Youngstown went 8-0-1 in the regular season, posted five shutouts, allowed a mere 22 total points to the opposition and defeated perennial power, Washington (D.C.) to claim the independent football championship.
To help commemorate that title, Edward “Otto” Pernotto, a Youngstown South Side native and Cardinal Mooney High School graduate who resides in Arlington, Va., will host a gathering Thursday from 6-10 p.m. in the M-Gallery of Erie Terminal Place.
Pernotto’s hope is to draw attention to the Patricians’ accomplishments as one of the very first professional football champions.
“Through all of my research, the Patricians are the only professional team that was ever founded in a place of worship,” Pernotto said. “The NFL was formed in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association before renaming itself the National Football League in 1922 so the Patricians’ title in 1915 was considered by many to have effectively been the early professional world championship.
Pernotto has commissioned a painting from local artist Ray Simon, which he has made into prints highlighting the original team members and their accomplishments.
“On the bottom of the painting is a copy of the only known photo of that championship team with Father Martin and the St. Patrick’s Church also prominently featured,” Pernotto said. “It was an exhaustive research project with not much information or photos from that era readily available.”
“I really liked [Simon’s] painting style, his patriotism and the many beautiful sports paintings that he has produced over the years,” Pernotto said. “We’re all excited and looking forward to unveiling his prints.”
The project is a way to honor Pernotto’s paternal grandfather, Joseph Conway, who was member of that early team.
“Obviously, Youngstown is a football crazy town at every level and as a kid, I, too, was a big fan,” Pernotto said. “I felt as if I had descended from royalty with my grandfather having played pro football and his team displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as champions of 1915.
“A few years ago, I realized that the 100th anniversary was approaching so I resolved to do something to commemorate the team,” Pernotto said. “I felt the need to highlight this important local chapter in our nation’s rich grid history.”
Simon said the project was a fun undertaking.
“It took quite some time to do my research,” Simon said. “I sat with Father [Edward P.] Noga at St. Patrick’s Church, he helped me with some photos of the players and believe me, those guys were tough steelworkers on that team.
“I had to paint everyone’s face and they were just the original tough guys of the sport.”
Commemorative t-shirts and posters will be available for purchase, as well as hand-signed limited edition prints.
Reservations are required for the unveiling and may be obtained by e-mailing YPats1@verizon.net.
Further information can also be obtained by visiting Pernotto’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Youngstown-Patricians.