Every town has those "famous" people who grew up in their town.
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Pete Gray || Steve Bilko || Nick Adams || Thomas L. "Ski" Demski || Russ Morgan || Billy Speary ||
Pennsylvania Governor...John S. Fine || Joseph Kanon || Johnny Grodzicki || Stanley J. Dudrick ||

Stanley J. Dudrick, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Father of intravenous feeding
Stanley J. Dudrick, M.D., F.A.C.S.

As a boy growing up in Nanticoke, Stanley Dudrick, M.D., showed interest in plants and nutrition.
That interest led him to invent something that saved millions of lives around the world and earned him international recognition.
The 80-year-old medical director of the physician assistant program at Misericordia University and professor of surgery at the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton is known as “the father of intravenous feeding.”
The American College of Surgeons in Chicago honored Dr. Dudrick recently for inventing intravenous feeding, a method of getting nutrients into the body through the veins.
He is included in a series of biographical videos called, “Heroes in Surgery: Our Legacy.” A nearly 25-minute video chronicles his life story from a coal mining town in Luzerne County to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where his invention came to life.
During a recent interview at Misericordia University, Dr. Dudrick said his fascination in plants and nutrition began when he started working on farms at 10 years old. Both his grandfathers came here from Poland and owned farms in addition to working in the coal mines. His father and uncles also worked in the coal mines starting at age 13.
When Dr. Dudrick went to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, he conducted a project growing tomato plants. He would change the nutrients and study the effects it would have.
He graduated with honors with his Bachelor of Science and he received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. From 1961-1967, he was a surgical resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
He had no intention of becoming an investigator or a researcher. He wanted to be a surgeon. When he lost three patients one weekend as an intern, he said he thought he wasn’t good enough to be a surgeon. After talking to his boss, he learned that before the patients arrived, they previously had operations elsewhere, lost 30 to 50 pounds each, were weak and died because of malnutrition.
He also learned only five to 10 percent of patients with malnutrition survive because there was no way to feed them.
“I said, ‘That’s not good enough for me.’ I don’t want to lose 90 percent of my patients,” Dr. Dudrick said. “I thought why do we let people die of malnutrition?”
No one had succeeded in feeding people through their veins. The medical profession initially thought it impossible. His boss encouraged him to see if he could develop an intravenous feeding system.
“I said, ‘I don’t think it’s impossible.’ I think we just needed to work on the technology and the techniques,” Dr. Dudrick said. “He said if I feel that strongly, he would let me go to the lab instead of quitting.”
That motivated Dr. Dudrick.
During the next two years, he read more than 600 papers, chapters and books and taught himself nutrition. He also talked to dietitians and biochemists and anyone who would answer his questions about nutrition. He said he knew it was feasible to feed by veins because fetuses are fed by the umbilical veins from their mothers’ placentas.
“I was shoveling sand against the tide. There was no one coming up to me trying to help me. They were all just waiting for me to fall on my face,” he said. “People would say it would never work. Then, they would say even if it works, it will be too expensive. Do you know what those same people said two or three years later? ‘I knew it was a great idea all along, Stan.’”
After putting together all the components of an intravenous feeding system and making it work, he proved the validity of his idea on beagle puppies. He grew them by getting nutrients through their veins.
“I got the first set of puppies to grow for 257 days and the IV dogs grew just as well as the oral dogs,” Dr. Dudrick said. “That changed my life forever.”
By growing puppies, he continued to learn about which vitamins worked best.
Jack Paar, former host of The Tonight Show, became a motivating force with his joke, “The operation was a success but the patient died.”
It angered him that people laughed when Mr. Paar would say that.
“That motivated me,” Dr. Dudrick said. “I was going to show him that an operation can be a success and the patient won’t die. Whenever I got discouraged, I would think of that.”
While he was a surgical resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from 1961-1967, he tested his intravenous feeding system on six patients considered “hopeless.” All six of those patients left the hospital.
Despite the fact that he saved the patients’ lives, he didn’t think he was doing anything special.
“I was just showing that it could be done. I never thought that I was some kind of savior,” he said. “I just think I’m somebody who tried to do the right thing and the best thing and what people would expect you to do if they’re going to trust you to be their physician. I still feel that way.”
After learning how Dr. Dudrick grew puppies by feeding them through their veins, a doctor at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia asked him to use his intravenous system to feed a baby who weighed about four pounds, had an abnormal blood supply and other complications. The doctor didn’t think she would survive.
By the end of the first day of intravenous feeding, the baby started moving. Every day, he added more to the solution. After 45 days of normal growth and development, it was the first example of successfully feeding a baby entirely by vein in the world.
Since then, he revolutionized the care of premature infants with low-birth weight. Most extremely low-weight babies would not have survived infancy without Dr. Dudrick’s perseverance and discovery, according to the American College of Surgeons. The organization credits him for saving millions of lives.
From 1970 to 2010, Dr. Dudrick said 10 million premature babies fed with his development of TPN (total par enteral nutrition) lived in addition to about 20 million adults in the United States alone.Dr. Dudrick and his wife, Theresa, a Misericordia University alumna, have six children and 16 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They have residences in Connecticut and Scranton. A hospital in Poland is named after Dr. Dudrick.
Russ Pottle, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Misericordia University, called Dudrick a “giant in his profession” and the source of knowledge and applications that have preserved millions of lives across the world.
“He is honored across the globe not simply for his achievements but also for his continuing dedication to medicine and medical science,” Dr. Pottle said. “Our program and its students — and the university at large — are extraordinarily privileged to be able to learn from Dr. Dudrick.”


Johnny Grodzicki was born on Monday, February 26, 1917, in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. Grodzicki was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 18, 1941, with the St. Louis Cardinals. His biographical data, year-by-year hitting stats, fielding stats, pitching stats (where applicable), career totals, uniform numbers, salary data and miscellaneous items-of-interest are presented by Baseball Almanac on this comprehensive Johnny Grodzicki baseball stats page.

George Sisler is on top row 2nd from left; Joe Garagiola is 4th from right on top row; Red Schoendienst is 4th from left in middle row; John Grodzicki is 2nd from right in middle row; Stan Musial is 3rd from left in bottom row.

Joseph Kanon
An Author's Tale by:
Elizabeth Skrapits - eskrapits@citizensvoice.com

Publisher Joseph Kanon's fascination with World War II history brought him to the doorstep of the nuclear age and a new career as an author, light years away from his birthplace in Nanticoke.A vacation trip from Manhattan to the site of the Manhattan project transformed a book publisher into a book author.
In the summer of 1995, Joseph Kanon took time off from his publishing job in New York City to visit Los Alamos, New Mexico. He was interested in the World War II era, and wanted to see the birthplace of the first atomic weapons.
"It just absolutely fascinated me," the 60-year-old Nanticoke native said during a recent interview. "It looks like an average American town. But 60 years ago it was the most secret place on earth. If you signed on for the project, you effectively left the planet."
The research and development team at Los Alamos, made up of some of the greatest scientific minds of the era and led by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, worked in an isolated former school building to create the atomic bombs that would be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
People knew something was going on out on the mesa, but they didn't ask, Kanon said. The scientists were completely isolated from the general public. Even police weren't allowed near the laboratory - which gave Kanon an intriguing idea for a thriller.
"What would have happened if there had been a crime? How would they have gone about solving it?" he said.
That speculation led to Kanon's first novel, the Edgar award-winning historical mystery "Los Alamos."
Since then, he has written three others, "The Prodigal Spy," `Alibi," and "The Good German" - which was made into a movie last year starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett - and is working on a fifth.
When he was growing up with his two brothers in the family home on Kosciuszko Street, Kanon had no inkling what his future would hold.
"I had a perfectly reasonable and, I suppose, perfectly happy childhood," he recalled.
Kanon's father Albert, one of seven siblings born in Nanticoke, worked in the mines. He died several years ago, Kanon said. His mother Hildreth, originally from Harveys Lake, is alive and well and living in Tunkhannock.
In his youth, Kanon especially enjoyed hopping a Martz bus, either with his parents or on his own, for a visit to what he considered the most exciting city in the world: New York.
"It wasn't that I was yearning to get out of where I was - children don't think in those terms," Kanon said. "But I suppose if people asked me where I wanted to live when I grew up, I would have said New York."
After graduating from Greater Nanticoke Area High School in 1964, Kanon attended Harvard for undergraduate studies, then took his master's at Trinity College, Cambridge, England.
He did end up living in New York City with a career in the publishing industry. Kanon was CEO of E. P Dutton, then later, executive vicepresident of Trade and Reference Publishing at Houghton Mifflin.
`Almost all my life I was in publishing," Kanon said. "I didn't have manuscripts secretly in drawers; I wasn't looking to do anything else. I would have stayed in the industry forever."
Until that fateful trip to Los Alamos.
Kanon was intrigued by World War II and its aftermath. He considers the war "the worst thing that ever happened." Hitler needed to be stopped, Kanon said, but 65 million people were killed.
"What I'm drawn to about it, is it is really the hinge of the 20th century," he said. "In the postwar period, we have 50, 60 years distance and we know the world shifted on its axis then."
It was the atomic bomb thatchanged everything, Kanon said.
He believes much of the Manhattan Project coverage is skewed. He calls Los Alamos the "Silicon Valley of the 1940s," populated with youthful - their average age was 27 - and patriotic scientists.
But because of 60 years of nuclear baggage, Los Alamos "seemed like it was made up of Dr. Strangeloves who had gone out into the desert to plot the end of the world," he said.
"It was a critical time," Kanon said. ""Perfectly ordinary people are placed in the role of having to make decisions that will affect people for years to come."
When he got the idea to set a mystery in Los Alamos, Kanon wondered, as a publisher, which author he could pass it to. Nobody came to mind.
He got so wrapped up in the story he decided to take a stab at writing it himself. However, he didn't tell anyone: it would be embarrassing if it turned out he was a publisher who couldn't write a book.
But he could.
"I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, I loved doing this," Kanon said.
He gave up his job in publishing for life on the other side of the business. Each morning he takes the subway to the New York Public Library - he needs a routine; he can't work from home, and envies people who can.
Kanon's wife, Robin Straus, is a literary agent. Not his, though.
"That would be like doing your own dental work. You have to keep things separate," he said.
They have two sons:
Michael, 22, a jazz pianist who just graduated from Oberlin, and David, 25, a pre-med student who is a paramedic with Lenox Hill Hospital.
Read more @ www.josephkanon.com

Governor John Sydney Fine



Governor John Sydney Fine (1893-1978)
January 16, 1951–January 18, 1955

The son of a coal miner, John S. Fine rose to face post-war challenges as governor and the birth of “suburbia.” Fine was born in a mine “patch” home in the anthracite coal town of Alden, Newport Township, Luzerne County, on April 10, 1893. Fine was the son of Jacob W. Fine and Margaret Croop Fine. Fine learned about hard work at a young age as he labored on the coal company’s farm, plowing fields, milking cows, and doing other chores. While Fine was still young, the family moved to Nanticoke where he attended Nanticoke High School and wrote community news part time for a small newspaper.

After graduating from high school, Fine earned his LL.B. degree from Dickinson Law School in Carlisle in 1914. The following year he was admitted to the Luzerne County Bar, practicing law in Wilkes-Barre, near his hometown of Nanticoke, until the start of World War I. In May 1917, Fine enlisted in the 23rd U. S. Army Engineers, advancing to the rank of sergeant. In 1919, while stationed in Ireland, the future governor advanced his education with post-graduate work at the University of Dublin’s Trinity College. He was discharged from the military in August 1919 and returned to his law practice, eventually as a partner in the firm Coughlin and Fine.

His direction toward public service and politics was noted soon after law school when he became Republican district chairman, Fourth Luzerne District, serving 1916 to 1920, except during military duty. He became secretary of the Republican County Committee, 1920–1922 and Luzerne County Republican chairman, 1922–1923. In 1927, Fine began a 23-year career as a court judge. Governor Gifford Pinchot appointed him to the bench of the Court of Common Pleas, Luzerne County, where he served from January 3, 1927, through a successful public election for a ten-year term that November, and was re-elected for another ten years in November 1939. Soon after that election, on December 5, 1939, at the age of 46, Fine married Helene Pennebecker Morgan, and from this marriage were two children, John Sydney Jr. and Donald.

On July 15, 1947, he was elevated to the Pennsylvania Superior Court after being appointed by Governor James Duff to fill a vacancy left by retiring Judge Thomas Baldrige. In November 1947, Fine was successfully elected to a permanent term, serving until he began his campaign for governor on March 1, 1950. Fine was the choice of Governor Duff to succeed him as governor and together they campaigned, with Duff running for the U. S. Senate. A continuing feud between Duff and the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association forced Fine to contend with a bitter multi-million dollar primary among opposing Republican factions, but he was victorious in the primary. In the fall election of 1950, Fine faced the charismatic Democratic mayor of Philadelphia, Richardson Dilworth, a Yale cum laude graduate and a former marine with a Purple Heart from World War I and a Silver Star in World War II. Dilworth’s running mate was Michael A. Musmanno, who eventually became a state Supreme Court justice. Duff managed a victory by a slim 86,000 vote margin, the narrowest margin for a Republican in twenty years. Fine’s favored lieutenant governor nominee, Lloyd H. Wood, defeated Musmanno by 126,000 votes.

Fine’s term would be a tough challenge and within three months personal tragedy struck. During the campaign in late October 1950, Fine’s wife Helene fell from a platform and began to suffer from severe headaches. A month after the inauguration, Mrs. Fine underwent surgery, but her condition became critical and she died on April 23 following more brain surgery at University Hospital in Philadelphia. Fine was only the second Pennsylvania governor to be widowed while in office, the other being Simon Snyder in 1810. The bitterness of the loss to his family was nearly matched by the bitterness of a divided legislature arguing over the governor’s tax proposals.

One of the problems of postwar Pennsylvania was a lingering recession and an unemployment rate that had doubled in just two years prior the Fine administration. Fine inherited requirements to meet interest payments, mandatory teacher salary increases, veterans’ bonuses, and other state government expenses combined to be about $120 million short of revenues. In addition, the postwar “baby boom” was just beginning. While the upper grades of public schools were not yet feeling the effect of the population boom, the lower grades were becoming strained to accommodate more pupils. School enrollments increased by about 38,000 students each year of Fine’s term. A new word, “suburbia,” was coined as areas and counties surrounding cities began to have population explosions, from 50 percent growth in suburban Harrisburg, for example, to 46 percent in Montgomery County, and 387 percent for the new community of Bristol. The urban areas, such as Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Lancaster grew by more than 18 percent.

School buildings were generally becoming run-down, classrooms understaffed and overcrowded, equipment outdated and worn out, and only half of the state’s teachers held college degrees. There were still more than 330 one-room schools and the average teacher’s salary was just $3,410 per year. The poor state of the Commonwealth’s schools was despite the fact that education expenditures had been tripled since 1940, but it was inadequate to meet the modern demands of educating the state’s growing population.
Fine believed strongly that state government was in need of reorganization and the Department of Health was one such agency updated to meet the health needs of local communities. Fine expanded mental health programs, highway programs, and a clean up of state waterways begun in previous administrations. The governor formed the Chesterman Committee to study government structure and to make recommendations. However, recommendations were not completed until after Fine left office. To pay for new or expanding programs, Fine proposed a one half percent income tax, but the General Assembly rejected the idea. The governor wanted to avoid increasing the tax burden on businesses, believing that it would cause more unemployment. In fact, he gave employers retroactive tax credits in connection with the Unemployment Compensation Reserve Fund. Fine instead turned to other revenue sources. Except for a limited six-month sales tax during the Pinchot administration, the state’s first permanent sales tax, amounting to one percent, was passed in 1953 and has increasingly remained a part of Pennsylvania’s budget ever since. Under the State Public School Building Authority, created in 1947, more than $430 million was borrowed and committed to 714 school building projects, the biggest school building boom in state history. In 1951, the legislature expanded the ability of local school districts to form their own taxing authorities.

Fine also signed laws in 1951 providing training in areas such as nursing for the unemployed, licensing for commercial homes for the elderly, rehabilitation programs for drug users, and safety regulations in the handling of liquid gases. Pennsylvania had been ranked near the bottom in public health by the American Public Health Association and Fine saw to improvements in health care. He approved a pay raise for legislators, congressional redistricting, allowing a truck weight limit increase from 15,000 to 60,000 pounds, and extending the Turnpike into his native Luzerne County.

Although Fine came down on the side of privacy when he vetoed the General Assembly’s attempt to publish the names of welfare recipients, he considered himself a Cold War warrior and was a strong anti-Communist. Because of the fervor raised with the hunt for Communists in the United States during the era of Joseph McCarthy, whom Fine supported at the time, the Communist Party was outlawed and Fine required all state workers, including teachers in state supported colleges, to each sign a loyalty oath. In his farewell address, Fine expressed the fear of many Americans who firmly believed that a surprise Russian nuclear attack and war with the Soviet Union was a real possibility.

During the second half of his administration, Fine signed into law a uniform child adoption law, prison reform, and he established the Governor’s Commission on Race Relations, a cross-section of respected civic leaders to work with local communities to end discrimination. At the same time, he opened up the State Police to African Americans and ended segregation in the state divisions of the National Guard. Fine initiated the construction of the State Vocational Rehabilitation Center at Johnstown, of which the dedication would be left to the next governor, George Leader. Other rehabilitation centers around the state were established to retrain injured workers. The governor also sought revisions in the state constitution, but Pennsylvanians voted down the idea and would not be ready for such a change until 1968.

Fine was the first Pennsylvania governor to have his inauguration televised, but television would also prove to cut both ways. During the National Republican Convention in July 1952, Fine led the Pennsylvania delegation. Privately, Fine supported General Douglas McArthur for president, but a group within his own delegation favored Senator Robert Taft. Fine requested time from the chair of the convention to caucus his delegation before casting votes, which would normally be granted as a floor courtesy to a state delegation. The chair reportedly reneged on the request, which made Fine appear indecisive to television viewers. Further, Fine was snubbed by the convention leadership when he sought to cast Pennsylvania’s vote to put Dwight Eisenhower over the top as the party’s nominee. Again, the discourtesy made the governor appear foolish to viewers. This incident hurt Fine’s public image and overshadowed his accomplishments as governor.

Fine faced great challenges in a postwar economy, political enemies within his own party, negative headlines from the news media, and a booming population, but despite overwhelming opposition in some instances, his administration reached many noteworthy goals that he set. It was also during Fine’s term of office that Dr. Jonas Salk, who was working at the University of Pittsburgh, succeeded in finding a vaccine for polio, which had crippled thousands of Pennsylvanians, as well as people around the world. Philadelphia was reorganized under a new charter and the nation’s first commercial nuclear generating plant became operational in 1954 in Shippingport, Beaver County.

Following his term of office, Fine returned to the practice of law and lived on a farm in Loyalville, Luzerne County. He also partnered with his brother-in-law in coal stripping and construction. In 1957, he made an unsuccessful bid to return to the bench on the Common Pleas Court of Luzerne County.
John S. Fine died on May 21, 1978, and is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Nanticoke, Luzerne County.

Billy Speary

3 Time National AAU Golden Gloves Boxing champ Billy Speary held 15 titles & fought the best in the world. Original newpaper, magazine articles & press photos follow his brilliant career.

Russ Morgan

Russ Morgan was born on April 29, 1904, at Scranton, Pennsylvania. He attended schools in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Nanticoke, PA.
Morgan and his wife Shirley lived at 2283 Bridlewood Drive. They had four children, Jack, David, Judy and Patty.
Morgan was an Orchestra Leader, musician, arranger, composer, singer, as well as playing at the Dunes. He belonged to the Masons, Shriners, Elks, Moose, Lions, Kiwanis and was one of the Nevada Kentucky Colonels. He held five gold records and received an award for Best Recording 1949 from Cashbox Magazine for "Forever and Ever", and an award from ASCAP for Best Theme Song "Does Your Heart Beat for Me". Other songs he wrote were "So Tired", "You're Nobody Until Somebody Loves You", "Homespun", "Somebody Else is Taking My Place", Sweet Eloise", "So Long, Please Think of Me", and "Don't Cry Sweetheart".
He was a coin collector, gun collector, loved to garden and do photography. He travelled the complete U.S., except Alaska; the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, England, and Mexico and has lived in PA, New York City, Chicago, Berkeley and Beverly Hills, CA, and owned two homes in Vegas and FL.
Morgan died on August 8, 1969, from a cerebral hemorrhage at Las Vegas.
Morgan's film credits include Mister Cory (1957), The Great Man (1956), Nat 'King' Cole and Russ Morgan and His Orchestra (1953), Disc Jockey (1951), Russ Morgan and His Orchestra (1949), Sarge Goes to College (1947), Cigarette Girl (1947), Melody Master: Russ Morgan and His Orchestra (1939), and Band Leader Russ Morgan Meet the Maestros (1938). He also appeared on Your Chevrolet Showroom TV show in 1953.

Pete Gray

Full Name: Peter J. Gray (born as Peter Wyshner)
Born: March 6, 1915 in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Died: June 30, 2002

"He shows us something everyday. You really don't believe some of the things he does. Believe me, he can show plenty of two-handed outfielders plenty."

-- Luke Sewell, manager in 1945 --

When America went to fight in World War II, many baseball players left the field to take their place in the Armed Services. The absences of players at the top level of the game opened the door for some who might not have otherwise had the opportunity.
One of those is a exceptional athlete who was described as being a fast runner, a proficient fielder and an above average hitter. That description could have been used for many players who have stepped on to the field in Major League Baseball.
Pete Gray, however, was different from the rest. He performed his feats with just one arm.
Gray lost his arm in truck accident during his youth. He didn't let the injury stop him fromplaying his favorite game, learning to hit and throw with his left arm.
He found his way onto semi-pro teams in his local area and later joined the Brooklyn Bushwicks. In 1942,he played for Three Rivers of the Canadian-American League and hit .381 in 42 games.
He moved to Memphis of the Southern Association in 1943 and played centerfield, hitting .289 over the course of the season. In 1944, he put together a season that would get him noticed by Major League scouts. He hit .333 with 5 home runs and stole 68 bases. Baseball writers in the minor league circuit named Gray Player of the Year and the Browns paid $20,000 to Memphis for his contract.
His impact wasn't as great at the Major League level with a higher level of athlete. However, he had moments where he stood out among his peers. He made his debut on April 18, 1945, and collected a hit in 4 at-bats.
On May 20, 1945, he had an incredible performance as the Browns beat the Yankees 10-1 and 5-2 in a doubleheader. Gray had 2 RBI on 3 hits in the first game and scored the winning run in the second game.
Gray played in 77 games and had 234 at-bats. He had 51 hits, 13 RBI and 5 stolen bases. It is reported that outfielders played him so shallow that shots that would have been bloop hits for most players were fly outs for Gray.
He was sent down after the 1945 season as more players who had been in military service returned to baseball. Gray was out of baseball for the 1947 season, but returned to play for Elmira in 1948 where he hit .290 in 82 games. He played in the minors and played on barnstorming teams until the 1950s and then retired to Nanicoke, Pennsylvania.

As he played, Gray wore a glove without the padding. When the ball was hit to him, he made the catch with the glove directly in front of him -- normally about shoulder height. As the ball hit the glove, he would roll the glove and ball across his chest from left to right.
Somehow, in this process, he learned to seperate the ball from the glove. In the motion, this glove would come to rest under the stump of his right arm and the ball would end up in his left hand.
In handling ground balls, he would let the ball bounce off his glove about knee height in front of him. He would flip off the glove and grab the ball while it was still in the air.
Some said this process allowed Gray to field balls faster than other outfielders he was playing with who didn't face the same handicap. When he was backing up another outfielder, he would drop the glove and be ready to take the ball in his hand.

Gray, despite having just one arm, used a full weight, regulation bat. He was described as standing back behind the plate and cocking the bat as any other hitter would. His hand was six inches or so up on the handle and he would take a full cut. He was described as being a pure pull hitter.

Sources: Cleveland Press, Baseball Digest, 20th Century Baseball Chronicle

Pete Gray Passes Away
NANTICOKE, Pa. · Pete Gray, who became a major league ballplayer despite losing his right arm in a childhood accident, died Sunday, June 30, 2002. He was 87.
Gray was born with the name Peter Wyshner but took the name Gray when he entered organized baseball. He played one season in the majors, hitting .218 in 77 games with the St. Louis Browns in 1945.
At the time Gray played, disabled athletes were often regarded as sideshow oddities. Frequently, there were taunts and insults.
"If they insulted me, I didn't pay attention," Gray told The Citizens' Voice of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in a 1995 interview. "I mostly kept to myself. That's why I got the reputation of being tough to get along with. But, I've mellowed."
Gray was right-handed until he lost his right arm when he slipped while riding on the running board of a truck and the arm got caught in one of the wheels. He learned to use his left hand and continued to play baseball.
A cobbler made a custom glove for him, with most of the padding removed so he could hold it loosely on his fingertips. That allowed him to discard the glove quickly to field a softly hit ball with his bare hand or slide his hand fully into the fingers to catch a fly ball or field a line drive.
The glove is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.
In his season with the Browns, he had 51 hits, including six doubles and two triples. He had 13 RBI and struck out just 11 times.

Steve Bilko

Steve Bilko

Born: Stephen Thomas Bilko - Nov 13, 1928 in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 230 lbs.
Died: Mar 7, 1978 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
College: None

Bilko was a slugger who posted phenomenal numbers in the minor leagues but never met expectations in the majors. He got his first call-up with the Cardinals in 1949 after hitting 34 HR in 139 games at Rochester (International League), but didn't stick for a full season until 1953 (he had a broken arm in 1952). He played every game for St. Louis that year, but his 125 strikeouts, just 9 fewer than the ML record at the time, cut into his productivity. On May 28, 1953, he struck out five times in a ten-inning game. He hit .251, and his 21 HR, 84 RBI, 72 runs, and 70 walks were all career highs. He never played regularly again. Bilko was sold to the Cubs for $12,500 in April 1954 and was let go after the season.
In the next three years, Bilko built a legend. Playing for Los Angeles in the Pacific Coast League (which had an extended schedule due to the good weather - in 1955 he played 168 games), he led the league in HR each year, with totals of 37, 55, and 56. He won the Triple Crown in 1956 with a .360 batting average and 164 RBI while also leading the league with 163 runs scored, and he hit .300 all three seasons. This earned the 6'1" slugger, charitably listed at just 240 pounds, another major league trial in 1958, with the Reds. He hit .264 with four HR in 31 games and was traded to the Dodgers with Johnny Klippstein for Don Newcombe in June. He hit just .208 with seven HR for Los Angeles. After spending 1959 at Spokane (Pacific Coast League), where he hit 26 HR and led with 92 RBI, he was picked up by Detroit for 1960 and recorded nine HR and a .208 average. In 1961 the expansion Angels were desperate enough to try Bilko, and he had his best season, hitting .279 with 20 HR (but 81 strikeouts) in 294 at-bats. He hit .287 in 1962, but a leg injury cut into his season. After one last tour with Rochester (International League) in 1963, he retired. He hit 313 HR and batted .312 in his minor league career. (WOR)
• To read about the career of Steve Bilko and to review his statistics, go to:
• For more on The Bilko Athletic Club, by Gaylon White, go to:

Nick Adams

Nick Adams

American motion picture and television actor of the 1950s and 60s. Appeared in several classic TV series such as "Rawhide," "Combat!," and "The Wild Wild West." He had the lead role in the 1959-62 series "The Rebel." Married to actress Carol Nugent.
He was born on July 10, 1931 as Nicholas Adamchock, in Nanticoke PA. He was in "Rebel Without a Cause," And numerous other films, but he's probably best known for his role in the television show, "The Rebel" 1959 - 1961. He had a troubled life, which included separating from his wife (but retaining custody of his 2 children).
He died on February 6, 1968 and is buried at Saints Cyril And Methodius Ukrainian Church Cemetery, Berwick, Pa.
Trivia: Nick was good pals with James Dean, and once dated Natalie Wood. In 1963, he spent over $8000 dollars to advertise in hopes of winning an Academy Award nomination for his role in, "Twilight of Honor."
He succeeded in receiving the nomination, but lost the Oscar to Melvyn Douglas.


Mission Mars (1968)
Fever Heat (1968)
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1966)
Mosby's Marauders (1966)
Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966)
Monster Zero (1966)
Die, Monster, Die! (1965)
Young Dillinger (1965)
Outer Limits - "Fun and Games" (1964)
The Young Lovers (1964)
The Hook (1963)
Twilight of Honor (1963)
Hell Is for Heroes (1962)
The Interns (1962)
Pillow Talk (1959)
The FBI Story (1959)
No Time for Sergeants (1958)
Teacher's Pet (1958)
Sing, Boy, Sing (1958)
Fury at Showdown (1957)
Our Miss Brooks (1956)
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Thomas L. "Ski" Demski

Thomas 'Ski' Demski -- owned Super Flag

Myrna Oliver, Los Angeles Times Published 4:00 am, Tuesday, January 22, 2002

2002-01-22 04:00:00 PDT Long Beach -- Thomas "Ski" Demski, who owned the world's largest flag, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and also had the Stars and Stripes tattooed on his torso, painted on his house and flying from the 132-foot flagpole in his front yard, has died in Long Beach. He was 72.

Mr. Demski, a disabled coal miner and construction worker and recovering alcoholic who supported himself by making bumper stickers touting 12-step programs to combat addiction, died Saturday at his home.

No specific cause of death was known, but Mr. Demski had undergone multiple bypass surgery, suffered from heart disease, diabetes and gangrene and told a Los Angeles Times columnist Dec. 30 that "I'm just waiting to roll over and die."

Super Flag, as Mr. Demski called his largest version of Old Glory, made specifically to capture the Guinness designation, cost $80,000, weighs 3,000 pounds and measures 255 feet by 505 feet. It is the size of three football fields and was inaugurated on June 14, 1992 -- Flag Day -- when it was unfurled on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

The giant national banner also was draped across Hoover Dam as the Olympic torch was carried across in 1996. Winds ripped it in three places during that outing, including one 90-foot gash. The repairs cost $5,000.

Somewhat sadly, Mr. Demski recently put Super Flag on the market for $100, 000, worried that it has not been flown frequently enough.

Mr. Demski and his giant flags gained newfound popularity across the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Regularly borrowed for Super Bowls and other sports events and veterans parades, the giant flags provided through Mr. Demski's Super Flag company -- and seen at his Web site, www.superflag.com -- covered the fields at Dodger Stadium and the Rose Bowl in the first games played at those venues after the attacks.

Born and reared in Nanticoke, Pa., where he began working in the coal mines as a teenager, Mr. Demski moved to Southern California in the 1970s.

Mr. Demski never married, had no children and has no known survivors.