Elder Athletics History

(An excerpt taken from The Pride of Price Hill: Cincinnati’s West Side and the Elder Mystique by Bill Koch)

 

In the dawn of Queen City athletic time, what would become known all over Ohio as The Pit was exactly that – a dusty cow pasture on Cincinnati’s West Side adorned with a manhole on the 50–yard line. It was the only known playing field in Ohio where a manhole was the home field advantage, and its sewer lid icon became a kind of trademark for the school’s rough-and-ready working class play.

From that inauspicious beginning nearly eighty years ago was born one of the Midwest’s most storied prep traditions: Elder High School athletics. In its steady procession of stellar teams and athletes, Elder became a West Side phenomena.

It began with coaches like Babe Bartlett and the custom of player-priest-athletic directors such as Father Bertke, known for telling his charges, “Quit yappin or I’ll ride herd on ya,” and salty Father Rudy whose green socks became another part of Elder lore. There were the Thanksgiving Day shootouts with archrival West High; Bob Hoernschemeyer, class of ’43, in the Guinness Book of Records for once scoring 27 points in six minutes; Steve Grote, an All-Big Ten basketballer after whom Michigan named its Hustle Award; and an astounding list of All-Staters and All-Americans.

Along the way, this all-boys parochial school, nestled in a residential corner of blue-collar Price Hill, acquired a following of loyalists found in no other school in Cincinnati, maybe in no other school anywhere.


The Pride of Price Hill
by Bill Koch
Available in the Elder Spirit Store

The Color of Victory
by Bill Koch
Available in the Elder Spirit Store