Once full of promise, Donora, PA (below), a small Pennsylvania town about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, has seen a steady decline in its industries over the decades. Why, then, is it tickle city? Benj Wagman, a distinguished Tickle City Award contributor who earlier covered mexican food, reports from the field:
DONORA, PENNSYLVANIA – A rusty town perched on a Pennsylvania hillside has come out of nowhere to mount a convincing campaign for 2010’s Tickle City USA, citing its reputation as the “birthplace of champions.” With a population of under 6,000 (although it was once considerably larger) it is the birthplace of baseball legends Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Sr, and Ken Griffey Jr.
Musial was a 24-time All Star for the St. Louis Cardinals and arguably the greatest Polish-American of all time. A hall of famer with 3,630 career hits and a .331 career batting average, Musial is revered by Cardinals fans young and old, who call him “the most underrated baseball player in history” and “a talented harmonica player.” Ken Griffey Sr. was a 3-time all star and is a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, while his son, Ken Griffy Jr., was arguably the best all around player of his generation and is a sure bet for the hall of fame.
Stranger yet, Stan “The-Man” Musial and Ken Griffey Jr. share the same birthday, a fact not lost to baseball statistician Bill James, who called Griffey Jr. “The second-best left-handed hitting, left-handed throwing outfielder ever born in Donora, Pennsylvania on November 21.”
Tragically, Donora is better-known for “the Donora Smog”, a disastrous pollution incident that killed 20 in 1948. Having lost the manufacturing and mining industries that once attracted workers from around the world, Donora is still hurting today. But with it’s history of champions, our country eagerly waits for the next gift from this beautiful town.
Donora, PA, you are tickle city!
And a special congrats to Benj for some excellent reporting. If you want to get recognized for your travels, a project, accomplishment or blog, be sure to submit!