WEIRTON - The Weirton community now has a permanent monument to honor all of the professional athletes who have called the city home.
The sign, officially dedicated Saturday, is framed by one of the goal posts from the old Jimmy Carey Stadium and includes the names of all athletes who have made it to the highest professional levels of football, baseball, golf and basketball.
It stands on property owned by ArcelorMittal Steel overlooking the intersection of Weir Avenue and Cove Road.
In welcoming the crowd, Mayor George Kondik joked that as he would drive along Cove Road, the sign looked "wide left." As he drove down Weir Avenue, it looked "wide right."
"Today, as we stand here looking at it, it's good," he said.
The project originally was envisioned by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce after realizing how many Weirtonians have reached the professional levels of various athletics.
PROFESSIONAL HONOR — This sign, honoring all professional athletes who have called Weirton home, was officially dedicated Saturday. The sign, framed by one of the goal posts from the old Jimmy Carey Stadium, overlooks the Cove Road and Weir Avenue intersection. -- Craig Howell
"This has been a labor of love," Chamber President Brenda Mull said, noting many in the community came together to make the project possible.
In particular, Mull thanked plant manager Brian James and ArcelorMittal Steel for transporting and installing the goal post; Starvaggi Industries for providing concrete; the Hancock County Commission for donating the goal post; and Weirton Museum President Dennis Jones and Weir High football standout Bob Kelley for doing research on the hometown athletes.
Assistance also was provided by Domino's Pizza; the Fort Steuben Mall Merchants; Holiday Inn - Weirton; Krazy Bout Sports; Smitty's Floors; Robinson & Son Construction; Strip Steel Community Federal Credit Union; the Weirton Area Museum; Weirton Medical Center; and Wine and Beverage Merchants.
Those currently included on the sign are:
Football: Bill West; Mike Rodak; Bob Gain; Bob Jeter; Bill Tucker; Tony Jeter; Gary Jeter; Leon Jenkins; Kevin Miller; John Canei; Carl Fodor Jr; Quincy Wilson; Charlie Turner; John Stock; Tom Bloom; Gene Trosch; Pete Koroszko; Tony Dorsett Jr.; Gene Remenar and Pete Zinaich
Baseball: Mike "Slim" Naymick; Harold "Doc" Daugherty; Bob Trice; Floyd Giebell; Dana Williams and Mary Lou Kolanko
Basketball: Ron "Fritz" Williams and Bill "Tobe" Thompson
Golf: Mike Krak
On Saturday, Kelley was on hand to provide a history of some of the athletes.
The location was chosen because Weir Avenue is said to be the street with the largest number of professional athletes in the country, Mull explained.
"It's something that will go on forever," Mull said. "Everyone will be able to see it, and it will be on Weir Avenue where it needs to be."
A second, identical sign using the former stadium's other goal post will be installed at another location in the future, and as other names of professional athletes are discovered, there are plans to add them to the list.
Former Hancock County Commissioner and local sports radio personality John Sorrenti was among the dignitaries in attendance Saturday, and explained the history of the goal posts also showcased how the community can work together.
According to Sorrenti, who was the purchasing agent for Hancock County Schools at the time, the slingshot-style posts were requested by the Weir High football coaches while other renovations were taking place at the stadium, but the school board wouldn't pay for them.
Instead, the school's Parent Teacher Association worked to raise the money, Weirton Steel Corp. donated the steel, an industrial class at the career center welded the posts together; Starvaggi donated the concrete and the C&P Telephone Co. assisted with the installation.
"That's the story of Weirton, and I see it's still happening now," Sorrenti said.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)