50 years ago

Pirates were coming to Bel Air

July 20, 2011

From The Aegis dated Thursday, July 20, 1961:

In front page news in The Aegis, no blue law arrests were reported, but town and state police were taking notes, according to the story, and were forwarding that information to Harford County State's Attorney Harry Dyer for possible legal action.

The 42nd annual Harford County Fair would be welcoming a "large number of entries" already received with "more coming in daily" when it opened Aug. 2. It was the forerunner to today's Harford County Farm Fair.

The big news in sports 50 years ago this week was the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates were coming to Harford County to host a tryout camp in Bel Air for players 16 to 22 years of age. The late Syd Thrift, who went on to some regional fame as the General Manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was Pittsburgh's regional scouting director for Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It was the first such professional baseball tryout camp in Harford County in 10 years, according to the story, when the Pirates had a similar camp in Havre de Grace in 1951.

It was also the beginning of the District 5 Little League Tournament that ultimately led to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Not long after that tournament, during what in some communities was an acrimonious transition from Little League Baseball to Harford County Parks and Recreation Baseball, Little League was all but gone from Harford County. Havre de Grace remains the lone Little League program in Harford County and it competes in District 5 with Cecil County which has a Little League program in five communities – Chesapeake City, Elkton, North East, Perryville and Rising Sun. In 1961, the harford County Little League tournament opened with Aberdeen playing at Bel Air, Edgewod at North Harford and Havre de Grace at Churchville. Poplar Grove Little League had an opening round bye. In less than a week there would be a Harford County Little League Champion and that team would face the Cecil County champion for the District 5 Championship to advance in the Little League tournament that for some teams would lead to the World Series in Williamsport.

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, celebrating its 145th year, had an ad taking up a quarter of a page that asked a question for the ages "What Is Electricity Pop?" The ad featured a sketch of a freckle-faced kid of about 10 or so asking his well-dressed father, who was smloking a pipe while cutting a sheet of some kind of building material with a jigsaw. The dad dutifully answered not only all the things it did in the boy's world, but also all the things it would do for his life in the future.

Trailways bus service was offering one-way trips from Bel Air to Washington, D.C. for $2.50, to Lancaster for $2.45, to Memphis for $26.35 and to Tampa for $27.30.

At the movies in Harford County 50 years ago this week, "Complete!" "Uncut!" "The Full 4 Hour Spectacle!" of "Ben-Hur," as the ad touted it, was coming to the Bel Air Drive-in in Churchville. In contrast to that classice which won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the "Curse of the Werewolf," starring Clifford Evans, and Andre Morell starring in "Shadow of a Cat," was playing at the Harford Drive-In in Aberdeen. The Bel Air Theatre on Main Street was showing Jules Verne's "Master of the World," starring Vincent Price, Charles Bronson and Henry Hull, "in Magnacolor."

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