A “Guy” Who Knows His Local Sports

By Steve Svetovich

Anyone who has met Dunmore’s Guy Valvano, knows he has a wide breadth of knowledge about local sports.

Sports writer Guy Valvano of Dunmore is shown with his wife of 68 years, Marie.

“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. 

Just a Thought…

By Maureen Hart

Back when I was 12 years old and in junior high school, I wrote my first-ever article for the school newspaper. They published it—with my byline—even though the paper looked more like a pamphlet than an actual newspaper, I was hooked on writing.

I took three years worth of journalism classes in high school, where I was copy editor for a newspaper printed on glossy white paper—the same shiny paper we used when I became co-editor of The Beacon at Wilkes College (now University). Luckily, we changed to newsprint during my tenure there, and I felt like it was a “real” newspaper.

Out of college, I took a short detour into public relations for the Osterhout Library in Wilkes-Barre where I produced and moderated a book review show called “Between the Lines” for Channel 44. It was interesting but not what I wanted to do.

But when I got an interview with the late Al Williams at the now defunct Scrantonian-Tribune back in 1972, I was back where I belonged. One of my early articles at the Trib, on page one no less, was a first-hand account of my experience during the Agnes Flood. I was supposed to move to Scranton on the same day the flood hit Wilkes-Barre, and instead was stranded in my apartment as the waters rose higher and higher. That article made me a minor celebrity for a day or two, since there was not yet a lot of news coming out of the drowned city.

I began at the Trib when the composing room was filled with hot lead and the type was set by hand, backwards. It was a quintessential newsroom right out of “The Front Page,” filled with lots of crazy characters and cigarette smoke. Dunmoreans like Guy Valvano (our sports editor) and the late Tom Casey (our courthouse reporter) helped make working at the Trib a joy.

In time, we moved on to computers, which would now be so antiquated you would laugh. But we thought we were cutting edge.

When the Trib closed, I joined the quixotic quest to start The Sunday Sun, which struggled along for 13 months before closing. I had learned a lot through that experience, but I thought my newspaper career had reached its end and started doing some substitute teaching. Then, as fate would have it, my future husband John Hart (little did I know) and the late Bob “Moose” McCarthy roped me into helping them with yet another venture called The Scranton Weekly, and after that, I edited The Dunmorean when it was a weekly.

I left the business in 1997, but came back in 2005 and to “help” John with one edition of the monthly version of The Dunmorean, and as fate would have it, I’ve edited every issue for the past 10 years.

We were bobbing along as usual until last month when a bright and energetic journalism student at Ithaca College joined us for a summer internship editing copy. A native of Dunmore, Emily Fedor has proved to be a major asset from day one, but I’m certain her biggest contribution will be her suggestion that we start an online edition of The Dunmorean.

Emily put together a sample of our June newspaper to show us (you can see it at our website) and, when we absolutely loved it, she agreed to join our staff as online editor. Her edition of the July issue of The Dunmorean will be online this Friday, July 3.

The good news for us is that we have entered the 21st century. A large majority of people get their information online nowadays, and it was time for us to get on board. The good news for readers is that, even if you enjoy the printed version (and we hope you do), you can now augment that with extra stories and information featured online.

Since we do not have subscriptions—we are a free newspaper, as will be our online edition—this will make it easier for people who do not have an opportunity to pick up a print version. It will be a way for Dunmoreans who live out-of-town to share the same news as the people back home.

So, I hope you help us spread the news if you have family or friends who are missing Bucktown and its hometown news.

To view our online edition go to: www.DunmoreanNews.wordpress.com. (If you’re reading this online: Congratulations! You’ve found us!) In addition, please look at our new Facebook page, and I humbly ask you to “like” us.

If you do like us, you have Emily Fedor, a rising journalism star from Dunmore, to thank for that. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that we old fogies have learned a lot from her already!