ZANESVILLE, Ohio – In 1950 the Associated Press voted Jim Thorpe as the greatest athletes of first half of the 20th century. And for one year he called the Y-City home.
Sunday marks the anniversary of Thorpe’s birth in 1887 in what was then Indian Territory, and was later to be admitted to the Union as Oklahoma. To try to list all the accomplishments of Jim Thorpe would be almost impossible. The short list is that he won two goal medals in the 1912 Olympics, he played Major League Baseball for seven years, was an All-American college football halfback, played and coached pro football for over a dozen years, and served as the first President of the National Football League.
By the time Thorpe came to Zanesville he was well past his prime. He was already 38 years old and was no where near the athlete he once was. Year of playing pro football had slowed him down but he was still a big draw among the fans and by far the most recognizable name in sports at the time.
Thorpe play for the 1925 Zanesville Greys who were a semi-pro baseball team. Records of the Greys’ season are hard to come by, but newspaper box scores show that Thorpe primary played left field. The Greys were a member of the Eastern Ohio League and played teams in surrounding cities such as Cambridge and Coshocton. In the team photo above Thorpe is pictured in the back row, fourth from the left.
Thorpe’s time in the Y-City consisted of just one season. He continued to play in the NFL for two more years after leaving Zanesville. Thorpe was an inaugural member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 and in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.