George Trout is the only person to have been involved in organizing York Area Sports Night in all of its 50 years of operation.
He still recalls the very first Sports Night in 1964 that featured track star Jesse Owens, quarterback Johnny Unitas, Penn State and Baltimore Colts football player Lenny Moore and baseball players Elston Howard, Steve Barber and Dallas Green.
At the time, Trout was working for WORK radio (now WOYK) and was the announcer for the York White Roses, York's first pro baseball team. He was asked to help find and bring talent to the inaugural Sports Night. In particular, he recalls getting track star Jesse Owens to come to the event. Owens was 28 years removed from having won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Germany, upstaging Adolf Hitler's hopes of German dominance in the Games. The effort led to Owens, the grandson of slaves, being named the greatest track and field star of the first half of the 20th century by the Associated Press and later awarded the Medal of Freedom from United States President Gerald Ford in 1976.
"It wasn't hard at all to get him," Trout said of Owens. "He was black. When he came back from the Olympics he was a big hero. The only way he could make any money, ballclubs like York — they didn't do it but other ballclubs would hire him to race against a horse. Take off from home plate for a hundred dollars. That's how he made a living. It was disgraceful. It was just disgraceful the things he had to do. The way he was treated. Anyway, that's how we started."
Trout said this year was his last helping to organize the event.
"Yep. Fifty years is enough," he said.
Participating in the 50th Sports Night on Thursday was Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, football Hall of Famers Charley Taylor (Washington Redskins) and Charlie Sanders (Detroit Lions), York High graduate and Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, Susquehannock High School graduate and University of Maryland head football coach Randy Edsall, former Central York football standout and Penn State defensive lineman Kyle Baublitz, Penn State tight end Matt Lehman, Baltimore Ravens lineman and former Penn State player A.Q. Shipley and York Revolution manager Mark Mason.
Below is a collection of quotes gathered from some of those sports figures Thursday:
Bruce Arians: On being in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL: "Those teams (San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis) did a nice job building at the line scrimmage, getting offensive and defensive linemen. And then they got young quarterbacks to put them over the top. When we were playing Seattle in Pittsburgh about four years ago, they were really talented but the quarterback couldn't beat you. Now a Russell (Wilson) can beat you. Kap' (San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick) can beat you. So our division has great defenses and now has four good quarterbacks."
Kyle Baublitz: Baublitz decided to forego a remaining year of athletic eligibility to pursue a teaching career. He's currently a student teacher at State College Area High School, teaching history. What's the hardest part so far? "Planning. You have to get the lesson plans, grade all the paperwork, so it's just trying to keep yourself organized."
Randy Edsall: A day after National Signing Day, Edsall chatted about a 17-member recruiting class that featured five offensive linemen, including one of the nation's top offensive tackle recruits: "I work to have 16 offensive linemen on scholarship. Our numbers after this year were down a little bit. People ask me the question 'Did you do that because you're going into the Big Ten?' No. We did that because it was a need for us."
A.Q. Shipley: On being with his fourth team (Baltimore Ravens) in five seasons in 2013: "I've learned a lot along the way regardless of being cut and making teams. I've learned a lot of different offenses and learned a lot of terminology. I think through all that I gained a lot. It's helped me a lot with my first real opportunity last year in Indianapolis. Made the most of it. Started making a name for myself around the league. Baltimore ended up trading for me. I hope I can make a nice little career out of it now."
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.