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Solvay Girls

Coach Earl Hadley
That's Coach Earl Hadley (standing, far left) and his 1920 Solvay High School football team. Fullback Buster Major is standing, fifth from the left. Holding the ball (center) is Mickey Welch, the captain.

I have last names for some of the players – going left to right from Welch, are Jackson, Hinsdale, Stewart, Kimberry, Kanar and Riley, the team manager. Sitting in the center is Cohen, the trainer. Moving left to right, the others are Conley and Larkin. Can anyone identify their teammates?

Here is how a Syracuse newspaper – I couldn't tell which one by the clipping that was left in my father's scrapbook – covered one of the Solvay football games from the 1921 season:

"Scholastic football in Central New York opened with a rush yesterday at Burnet Park when the strong Solvay High eleven smashed through Camillus High's gridiron representatives to score a 60 to 0 victory in the first half. Coach H. E. Hadley's Solvay team rushed its Camillus opponents off their feet from the start.

"The Camillus management, following the first half, which ended with the overwhelming score in favor of the Solvay players, withdrew from the game, admitting Hadley's charges were too strong.

"Major, fullback for the victors, scored three touchdowns, while Welch, quarterback, carried the ball over four times. McCarthy, Solvay's left halfback, made two touchdowns and kicked six goals.

"The Solvay scholastic eleven meets its next opponent a week from Friday, opposing the Christian Brothers team on that day."

As you can tell by the photo at the top of the page, Solvay, like most teams in that era, had only a handful of substitutes. A coach could not insert his second string – because he usually didn't have one.

Hadley, who grew up in Sandy Creek, NY, graduated from Springfield (Mass.) College. He taught physical education for one year in Ilion, NY, before moving to Solvay in 1917. A year later his teaching career was interrupted for service as a Marine lieutenant in World War I. In 1920 he returned to Solvay High where he coached the football, basketball and baseball teams for many years, winning several league and county championships with each team.

He was way ahead of his time in preaching on behalf of soccer, finally establishing a team at Solvay High in the 1950s, though most of us remained unimpressed with the game even after we'd played it for four years in Hadley's gym class. (Many may also remember Hadley's claim that no one could do a one-handed pull-up. A lot of us tried, none of us succeeded. Maybe it can't be done.)

Hadley died in 1967, and in 2003 the Solvay High School stadium (below) was named in his honor.

JACK MAJOR

 

It took awhile, but in 1940 Earl Hadley experienced something on the baseball field for the first time. Here's how the Syracuse Herald-Journal reported it:

 Syracuse Herald-Journal, May 23, 1940
Hadley, Solvay Coach for 23 Years,
Finally Sees a No-Hit Game Pitched

Earl Hadley, athletic director at Solvay High School for 23 years, is one of the most optimistic as well as one of the most capable coaches in Central New York.

He has directed football, basketball and baseball teams to titles for Solvay. He has seen boys he taught travel on to become stars in college sports. But he never makes any claims.

Right now his Solvay baseball team appears destined to win the pennant in the Western Division of the Onondaga County League. It has won each of its first five games, is rather able defensively and hits fairly well.

But Hadley isn’t claiming a pennant. He will let the games of the future take care of that situation.

Hadley maintains he has never been through a season in football, basketball or baseball that didn’t have some rewards.

The baseball season of 1940 brought him one for which he has looked since his first year. That was pitcher Bill Welch’s no-hit game for him Tuesday against Warners. Hadley waited 23 years for that feat by a Solvay pitcher. The coach never saw a no-hitter previously in any game, either as a coach or a spectator.

Twice he has seen Solvay pitchers have a grand start toward one, only to be touched for one hit.

For that reason he is well pleased with the 1940 season. He would like a pennant, also, but he never counts chickens until the eggs are hatched.

While that may have been the first time Coach Hadley had witnessed one Solvay pitcher throwing a complete game no-hitter, it was not the first time his team held an opponent hitless. Only two years earlier Hadley used two pitchers in a 10-0 victory. Not only did the pitchers not allow a hit, they did not walk anyone and their teammates commited no errors. In other words, it was a perfect game:

Syracuse Journal, May 4, 1938
Two pitchers on Solvay’s nine of the Onondaga County League united to pitch a no-hit, no-run game yesterday afternoon against Elbridge, in which Solvay easily won, 10 to 0, in the opening round of the league.

Weslowski, a veteran of three years experience, performed on the mound for the first four innings, to be replaced by Demperio, who hurled the final three, and prevented Elbridge from placing a man on base, as did his predecessor.

While their opponents were being held hitless, the powerful Solvay outfit pounded out 10 hits to score as many runs. Doc Demperior, freshman brother to the hurler, had a perfect day at bat, smashing three singles and a triple in four trips to the slab.

 

The Syracuse Post-Standard reported on March 28, 2012 that the Solvay Union Free school board voted to name the football field after the late Al Merola, who coached the football team to 210 wins during his 34-year career at Solvay High.

The football field is part of a stadium complex that also includes baseball and track facilities. The complex as a whole will continue to bear Earl Hadley's name.

Merola became head football coach in 1970, retiring in 2003 after leading the Bearctas to 17 league titles and two sectional championships. Five years ago Merola was inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

Merola died in November, 2011, victim of cancer. There was a ceremony at the 2012 homecoming game to honor Merola and to officially stamp his name on the field.

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