Vol. 28, No. 1, Spring/Summer 1990 - "Sports in Pennsylvania: Geographical Perspectives"


(pp. 3 – 14)

Jonathan I. Leib

Department of Geography

Syracuse University


Many cities in Pennsylvania have hosted minor league baseball franchises this century. These franchises have been quite unstable, however, with few cities keeping their teams for extended periods of time. Even those cities which have had franchises for many years have gone considerable periods without minor league baseball. Three conclusions are drawn from this study. First, minor league baseball was much more widespread in Pennsylvania before 1950 than after. Second, most of those cities that had teams before 1950 were members of spatially compact leagues in the lower classifications of the minor league system. Third, when the minor leagues declined in the early 1950s, many of the leagues that were affected were in the low minors, and the demise of these leagues virtually wiped out all minor league baseball in Pennsylvania. The article concludes by questioning the conventional argument that the growth and diffusion of television caused the decline of minor league baseball in the early 1950s.


(pp. 15 – 30)

George A. Schnell

Department of Geography

The College at New Paltz

State University of New York


Football in Pennsylvania has a long tradition and enjoys much success. With more college teams than any state and its share of championship teams and individuals who have gone on to distinguished careers in the professional leagues, Pennsylvania's place in the sport is widely recognized. Where do the Commonwealth's colleges recruit players? Where are the recruiting hotbeds? What, if anything, distinguishes these hotbeds? Beyond Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (and many of the state's central cities and their regions) where large high schools play in highly competitive circumstances, several small municipalities found within and beyond metropolitan boundaries enjoy uncommon success in the sport and serve as fertile recruiting grounds for Pennsylvania's colleges. The ingredient most commonly cited in success in high school football seems to be the intense interest in the game as expressed by strong community support, both moral and financial.


(pp. 31 – 41)

Donnat V. Grillet

Philadelphia School District


Sports and Geography are great motivators for the Elementary Social Studies Curriculum. The lure of sports naturally promotes interest in Geography, and vice versa. Away games mean that another city and state can be studied in detail. In addition, climate and time zones create interesting problem-solving situations for students. This collaboration is not new. Geography and sports have formed the basis for units and individual lessons, but few programs have been as successful as the Philadelphia Eagles' Gridiron Geography Program. Integration of the Five Themes of Geography, as outlined by the NCGE, is an integral component of each lesson based on the weekly opponent of the Eagles. The organizational approach to this program was well conceived. The Eagles' promotional staff saw the value of developing their product through the schools. Sponsorship was sought and the program was off the ground in 1985. Since that year the number of lesson packets has grown to 3,000 this past season. Gridiron Geography is more than just lesson plans. The media has supported the concept by publishing, in the Philadelphia Daily News, the "Soar With The Eagles—column each week during the football season. This column combines the "Themes" with football facts and includes puzzles and games. In addition, "Basketball Hoopla" premiered this past winter using the NBA and Geography as its basis. The motivational value of sports and Geography is apparent. The increased popularity of this program in the Philadelphia area may indicate a significant new teaching tool to be used nation-wide.


(pp. 42 – 58)

E. Willard Miller

Department of Geography

Pennsylvania State University


Pennsylvania was a leader in the establishment of golf in the United States, having the first nine-hole golf course at Foxburg in Clarion County. In the early twentieth century concentrations of courses developed around the largest cities. The number of persons playing golf depends on the prosperity of the times. During economic depressions, golf declines, but during prosperity the number of players expands. Today there are 318 registered golf courses in the state with the two major regions located in southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania and three isolated minor areas in the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania, Centre County in central Pennsylvania, and Erie County in the northwest. In addition to these areas of concentration, golf courses are found in all but two counties. Golf courses are thus accessible to all who wish to play the game.

The Pennsylvania Geographical Society exists to promote effective geographic teaching, research, and literacy.

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