Volume Four  Issue Twelve  December 2019
The History Center on Main Street
 83 and 61 North Main Street
Mansfield, PA
The Museum of Us
The History Center on Main Street
Director- Joyce M. Tice: President - Deb Talbot Bastian: V.P - Kathy McQuaid
The Premier Issue of Stories From the Archives is in the mail to members

If your membership is current, you will soon receive the premier issue of our printed journal. It is 40 pages of articles and pictures of our area. We expect to produce 4 to 6 issues annually and distribute them to paid up members.

When you receive your journal, your mailing label will include your membership renewal date. We will include a renewal card in your journal, so that you can stay current.

If you are not a member, issues of the journal may be purchased individually for $10 plus mailing cost.

You may opt to receive your issue by email as a pdf file. It will save us printing and mailing costs if you do. Let us know.
If you've had an address change, please let us know.
Joe Bedenk - Mansfield Outstanding Athlete
by Steve McCloskey
Seventy-years ago this month, the greatest and most accomplished athlete ever to graduate from Mansfield High School that wasn’t named McMillen was wrestling with the biggest decision of his professional career.

Over the course of the next 100 days, a man who had recently achieved the pinnacle of his profession decided that family and passion outweighed prestige and fame. He willingly walked away from a job that few could ever hope to possess in order to preserve the things he held dearest in his life. ( Photo Caption: Joe Bedenk points out his name on Mansfield's World War One Memorial )

Eight months prior to December of 1949, Mansfield High School and Mansfield State Normal School graduate, Fredrick Joseph Bedenk, had been selected to succeed Bob Higgins as the 13th head football coach of the Penn State Nittany Lion gridiron program.

Handsome, athletic and well-liked by seemingly everyone, he went by F. Joe Bedenk for most of his life answering to the nickname “Dutch” during his outstanding career at Mansfield State Normal School.

Bedenk had more than earned the opportunity to step into the head job when Higgins retired, citing health concerns, in March of 1949.

Already a football legend in his own right – Bedenk was a Walter Camp All-American guard at Penn State in 1923 and led the Nittany Lions to their first-ever Rose Bowl appearance -- with an unequaled reputation as the nation’s best line coach when he took over the helm of the Nittany Lion football program.

After graduating from Penn State, Bedenk had served as an assistant football coach at Rice University under the legendary John Heisman and later at the University of Florida under College Football Hall of Famer Charlie Bachman. He left Florida returning to Penn State as the line coach in 1929.

As remarkable as his football career was, it wasn’t his first love or his only love.

His first love was for his wife Lota and their then 13-year-old daughter, Joanne. He met Lota while coaching at Florida. They married in 1930, shortly after his return to Penn State. His next love still wasn’t football, the sport from which he received such national acclaim, but baseball.

Ever since he was a little boy living next to the entrance of Smythe Park, Joe Bedenk’s heart belonged to baseball. He played all the time on the next-door field with its majestic grandstand, hoping to become as good a player as his older brother Frank. Signing his first professional baseball contract in 1916, Frank went on to become one of the most well-known figures in Elmira baseball history.

Joe was a star on the baseball team during his undergrad years at Penn State and served as the head baseball coach during his stints as an assistant football coach at Rice and Florida. He took over as the head baseball coach at Penn State in 1931 and turned the Nittany Lions into one of the premier collegiate baseball programs in the country.

After posting a winning season in football and leading the baseball team to the program’s first NCAA post-season appearance in 1949, Bedenk realized that serving as both the head football and head baseball coach required more time and commitment than he, or perhaps any man, could give.

It must have been an extraordinarily difficult decision to give up the prestige of what was even then one of the most coveted and recognized coaching jobs in the country. But that’s exactly what Bedenk did – he went where his heart was.
Almost a year to the day that Bedenk was named the head football coach he resigned that position and kept the head baseball job. In hindsight, the decision worked out remarkably well for both Penn State and Bedenk.

After a long nationwide search, Penn State named Rip Engle as the head football coach for the 1950 season, and Engle brought with him an assistant from Brown by the name of Joe Paterno.

Bedenk continued to coach the baseball program until retiring in 1962. Over his 32 seasons at the helm, Bedenk posted a 410-161-6 overall record career record. He directed the Nittany Lions to nine NCAA playoff appearances including three trips to the College World Series where Penn State finished second in 1957.

One of the founders of the American Baseball Coaches Association, Bedenk was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame in 1966.

Last year his daughter, Joanne, donated her father’s diplomas from Mansfield High School and Mansfield State Normal School along with athletic certificates to the History Center. Ask Joyce to show you the Bedenk collection on your next visit to the History Center's Museum of Us.
Will Mansfield be able to see its past in the future? At the History Center and Museum of Us, recording the past and making it available for years to come is our special purpose.

We have made a lot of progress in the 8 years since we moved the museum from Joyce's barn in Sullivan Township to Mansfield. Every year we have improved our facilities and furnishings as well as our collections. We have created an entity and resource that deserves a place in Mansfield's future. Having built the foundation, our 2020 vision says we are ready to grow.

Among our most visible community projects this year are:
  • Celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the PA State Basketball Championship,
  • A welcoming event for the Destroyers Baseball Team
  • Seven High School Reunions
  • Hosting a mixer for the Chamber of Commerce
  • Providing the research, photos, and background material for the American Legion centennial memorial book
  • Providing military information to Prospect, Oakwood, and Lawrence Corners Cemeteries for their V.A. support
  • Launching our first issue of our printed journal, Stories From the Archives.
  • Twelve newsletters
  • Art classes by local artists
  • Speakers and seminars
  • Providing 2 internships and 5 work study opportunities to Mansfield University students
  • Providing research resources for genealogy and history.
Members and individual donors are the most important part of our financial base.

We are pleased to have the items that people bring in on a regular basis that add to our story of the Mansfield area. But to be part of our 2020 vision, we also need more members and more financial donors to support the organization we have become.
This is another little gem of our 2020 vision theme.
You Never Know What Will Come in Our Front Door.
If you agree with our vision, if you believe the History Center and The Museum of Us have a place in Mansfield's future, the best way to say so is with membership or donation dollars.
Help us grow in 2020
Thanks To Our Sponsors
First Citizens Community Bank
Law Offices of Larry Mansfield
Mansfield Auxiliary Corporation MAC
Strohecker Vision
Elite Therapy
Christmas Break 1917
From the Elmira Star-Gazette 03 January 1917

MANSFIELD STUDENTS RETURN TO STUDIES - The students for the State Normal School at Mansfield, Pa., who were at their homes for the Christmas' vacation, returned to their studies at Mansfield yesterday. The Erie Railroad Company yesterday started a special train from Binghamton to Elmira and was transferred in this city to the Tioga division and sent on to Mansfield. The train carried 231 students out from this city. The Mansfield school now has about 600 students, which is nearly double the number of three years ago.
Why do we ask for donations in every newsletter? Because we have to.
It's the only way we can continue offering our important services to the community.
Your help will make it possible.
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The History Center on Main Street
The History Center on Main Street provided no goods or services in exchange for your contribution. Your contribution is deductible to the extent provided by law. The official registration and financial information of The History Center on Main Street, may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement