By Steve Svetovich
Anyone who has met Dunmore’s Guy Valvano, knows he has a wide breadth of knowledge about local sports.
“He really is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to local sports,” said former Scranton Central and William and Mary University basketball standout Tim Wagner who operates Wagner’s Sporting Goods in the Green Ridge section of Scranton.
And that he is.
Valvano, who will turn 93 this October, said he kept the scores of every local high school football game from 1950 until June of 2015 when he suffered a brain aneurysm. “That is the only thing that stopped me,” he said.
The local sports guru did recover from the aneurysm, which he still has, and continues to follow the local sports scene.
The 1946 Dunmore graduate has been married 68 years to the former Marie Bevelock, a 1949 Dunmore graduate.
He actually covered his wife’s Dunmore High School graduation, but did not know her at the time. He met her shortly after.
The couple has one son, Guy, Dunmore, and three daughters, Terry Macciocco, Mary Ann Ragnacci, and Diane Lewis, all of Dunmore. The couple also has five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Valvano has spent a good portion of his life covering sports as a reporter and editor.
He played two years of basketball as a 5-9 center at Dunmore High School earning second team all-star recognition as a junior and playing in the basketball Dream Game in his senior year.
“Initially, I raised my hand to play forward when I was in junior high school,” he said. “They didn’t pick me. So I figured I better raise my hand to try out for center. Then the coaches picked me, so that is how I became a 5-9 center. I figured I better raise my hand again if I wanted to make the team.”
Towards the end of high school, Valvano began running baseball and basketball teams in Dunmore and would transport the scores and information to Jimmy Calpin, the sports editor at The Scranton Tribune at the time.
“Calpin noticed I had an interest in sports and said it looked like sports reporting would be something of interest to me. So he offered me a position as copy boy. I told him about my high school basketball schedule which included both games and practices. He told me he would work around my basketball schedule. At the time I turned it down in order to concentrate on basketball.
“That summer I was cutting grass working for a landscaper in Dunmore. I was thinking that I would need a job after the summer, so I called Calpin. Initially, he said there was no opening but would keep me in mind. But about a week later he called me and offered me the copy boy job. He told me I would have to report to work the next day. I did and that was it.”
Valvano worked at The Scranton Tribune as a copy boy for six months before being named a news correspondent covering Dunmore and East Scranton. He also covered North and West Scranton as needed. That job lasted two-and-one half years before he was promoted to the position of staff reporter in 1949, right before the start of the high school football season.
In the early 1950’s he moved over to the sports staff as a full time sports reporter at The Scranton Tribune.
He covered sports there for the next four decades until the Tribune’s demise in 1990.
During that time, he was named assistant sports editor in 1972 and sports editor of the Sunday Scrantonian in 1983.
Following the end of The Scranton Tribune, Valvano never stopped writing.
He immediately joined the sports staff of The Sunday Sun, a local newspaper created by former reporters, editors and printers of the defunct Tribune. He stayed with The Sunday Sun for a year until that newspaper’s ultimate demise.
Valvano then joined The Dunmorean where he wrote sports stories on and off for the next 25 years.
In the meantime, he wrote 12 sports-related books. All of the books capture the local high school sports scene over the past seven or eight decades or so. His last book, Pushing Fifty, was published in 2017. And he may not be done yet.
Valvano also took on a position as sports information director at Lackawanna College from 1993 until 2004. His years at the Scranton Tribune went from 1946 to 1990. He was 17 when he started and 62 when the newspaper folded while he was still a full time editor.
The local sports icon said football is his favorite sport to cover, although he loves all sports. “I enjoy covering football the best because something is always happening.”
Valvano said he loved covering the Dream Game. “That was one of my real favorites. The Dream Game was my pet among events I loved to cover. You could write a feature story on every single kid selected. That is something I would have loved doing.”
The former Sunday Scrantonian sports editor said one of his favorite stories he covered was when Scranton Central snapped Old Forge basketball’s record winning streak. “I remember covering that game well,” he said. “I remember the big headline.”
He also covered the first basketball game ever played at the old Scranton Catholic Youth Center (CYC).
He remembers gathering with local reporters every year and going to a World Series game. But he remembers most the one he didn’t attend. “Chic Feldman had a ticket for me October 8, 1956, but I decided not to go. Well, that was the day Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the World Series for the Yankees. I believe Chic was there to see it, but I wasn’t.”
Valvano said the late Johnny Vander Meer, the only MLB pitcher to pitch two consecutive no-hitters, was one of his most famous interviews. He interviewed the former Cincinnati Reds hurler at Monticello. “He was a nice guy and gave me a great interview.”
He also interviewed Willie Mays and met Johnny Unitas at Pocono Downs. “I had a great 15-minute conversation with Unitas. He was a tremendous guy. He was busy at an event, but he didn’t want me to leave. He wanted to keep talking and telling stories.”
He especially remembers Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson who spoke at a baseball event at Dunmore’s Schautz Stadium. “Brooks was actually in my Dunmore home. He was such a pleasant guy. What I remember most is parents coming in with their kids. Brooks politely excused himself and ran right up to the kids to talk and spend time with them. That made a big impression on everyone.”
When Valvano suffered a brain aneurysm in mid June of 2015, he was transported to Hershey Medical Center. He spent nine days there. His daughter told him he better do some reading while he was there. Ironically, he picked up the book, Johnny Vander Meer, Double No-Hitter.”
That was six years ago, and today local sports journalism’s number one Guy is still going strong.