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Syracuse Herald-Journal, November 27, 1940

Alton Talmadge Will Coach
Solvay High Basketball

Hadley Steps Aside After 20-Year Term, But
Will Remain Coach For Fooball and Baseball


Earl Hadley, supervisor of physical education for Solvay High School, today announced appointment of Alton Talmadge as his successor in basketball coaching at the school.

Hadley, in his 24th year at Solvay, has coached basketball himself since the sport was adopted by the school in 1920. He declared he would continue as football and baseball coach as well as directing the physical education program.

Talmadge, new to the Solvay school faculty this year, formerly taught and coached basketball at Split Rock.

Talmadge had a highly successful season at Split Rock last winter, finishing the 1939-40 schedule in the Onondaga County League in a first place Western division tie with Camillus, both teams showing a record of 10 games won and two lost. Hadley’s Solvay boys were tied with Jordan for fourth place. Solvay defeated Jordan to reach the playoffs, but lost a 36 to 20 game to Camillus in the first round. Split Rock toppled Baldwinsville in its opening playoff session by a 19 to 17 score, but lost in the second round to Camillus by a 29 to 23 score.

Although golf is still an unofficial sport in the Onondaga County League, Talmadge may do much to bring the sport into more prominence and form a more active league. He coached the links squad at Split Rock and will direct the Solvay club swingers.

Talmadge will have an abundance of basketball material advancing from the junior varsity team of last year, which went through an undefeated season, conquering Camillus, Split Rock, Baldwinsville, Jordan, Skaneateles, Elbridge, Marcellus, Onondaga Central and Warners.

The Jay-Vee youngsters joining the varsity will include Ralph Willoughby, Ken Bailey, Robert Hempler, Robert Petrault and the Szczech brothers, Joe and John, members of the undefeated Solvay football team and younger brothers of Alex Szczech, all-scholastic stars of a few years ago.

Three veterans of last year’s varsity team returning include Ralph Lanceros, who received honorable mention on the all-scholastic team of last year, Nick Gettino and Leland Mitchell, two of the team’s ablest players.

Euligio Pirro, who was selected as all-scholastic center on the second team last season; Nick Dempirio and Manuel Martinez, who finished in a tie for 10th place in the individual scoring race with a record of 96 points scored in 12 games, has reported to Coach Ribs Baysinger on the Syracuse University freshman quintet.

 

One thing I've never gotten straight about the man who went on to have a sensational coaching career at Solvay High School is the number of L's in his last name, which appears almost equally as Talmadge and Tallmadge. The 1940 article above opted for the one L spelling.

On February 9, 2012, the Syracuse Post-Standard's Charley Hannagan did a feature story on the former coach, the occasion being his 100th birthday, which was celebrated with family and a few of his former players (who ranged in age from 84 to 88). In the article his name was spelled Tallmadge.

One L or two, Alton Tallmadge did a remarkable job of coaching basketball. He replaced a legend, Earl Hadley, and became a legend himself. The information that follows was taken from the article by Hannagan, who had access to a short biography prepared by Linda Tallmadge of Marchellus. She is a daughter of Alton Tallmadge.

The former Solvay High basketball coach was the youngest of 10 children. His father was a Preble, New York, farmer; his mother died when he was a child. He graduated from Homer Academy and two years later entered Syracuse University where he played basketball on the freshman team and lacrosse for the junior varsity and moved up to the varsity team in his senior year.

As the 1940 article above mentioned, Tallmadge coached first at Split Rock High School (which no longer exists) before taking the job at Solvay. That same year he married Dorothy Park, another Split Rock teacher. They had two daughters.

The former players who attended his birthday celebration were from the early Tallmadge teams. Those mentioned in the article were Bob Himpler, Ed Alexander and Mike Gasapo, who was one of my coaches on the Solvay Tigers basketball team when I was 13.

My cousins, Bimby and Bobby Smolinski, played for Al Tallmadge. Bimby's team won at least 27 straight games at one point; Bobby was the center on the 1951-52 team that went undefeated until the Section 3 championship game against Whitesboro. Bob Himpler, mentioned above, was a member of the 1942-43 team that was perhaps the most successful in school history, winning the Little Falls post-season tournament, which in those days was about as far as a New York state high school team could go. Solvay was the smallest school ever invited to the tournament.

At one time Solvay had an intense rivalry with the neighboring village of Camillus. When their high schools played each other, especially in basketball, it was a special event. The game in February, 1946, was such a big event that it was moved to Archbold gymnasium on the Syracuse University campus because neither school had enough seats to accommodate the crowd. Solvay won that game, 27-26. A few other Solvay games from that era were played at the State Fair Coliseum because the one thing Solvay didn't have in those days was a comfortable, spacious gymnasium.

Camillus High School closed, giving way to West Genesee High School, which took students from Fairmount who in earlier years would have gone to Solvay. Tallmadge retired from coaching after the 1951-52 season and later became vice principal, the principal at West Genesee, where he is credited with starting a lacrosse program that has become one of the most successful in the country.

Tallmadge's coaching career at Solvay was interrupted during World War 2 when he temporarily turned the basketball team over to Hadley while he took up defense work. Overall he coached Solvay for 11 seasons, winning 10 divisional titles in the Onondaga County League and twice winning the Section 3 championship. Under Tallmadge, Solvay's basketball team won 93 percent of its games.

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