If you drive around the football-crazed town of Massillon you'll notice Lillian Gish Street, David Canary Road, Tommy Heinrich Bridge and Paul E. Brown Drive. At Washington High School, the football team plays in a stadium named for Brown whose statue adorns the grounds. The school's baseball team plays in Bucky Schroeder Field, and the players sit in Joe Sparma and Mike Hershberger dugouts.
Tribune Chronicle sports writer Mike McLain pointed all this out in a poignant column last October. He drew the stark contrast between a town that honors its sports heroes and Warren, where nothing is named for Paul Warfield, Bill White, Ross Browner and others. McLain called for a statue at Mollenkopf Stadium to honor the NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Warfield, who graduated from Harding High School in 1960.
One of Warfield's teammates, Ray Yannucci, and one of Warren's philanthropists, AVI Foodsystems President and CEO Anthony Payiavlas, have responded. They spearheaded a project that will result in the Sept. 12 unveiling of a Warfield statue near the home stands on the Mollenkopf grounds. The street in front of Harding High School, from Atlantic Street to Elm Road, will be named Paul Warfield Way.
On the eve of this season's game against rival Massillon, Harding's players and coaches will learn what a talented player and classy gentleman their city produced in Warfield. He was a three-sport star in basketball, football and track in high school. He played halfback at The Ohio State University, where he was a three-year starter and an All-American. He played receiver for 13 seasons in the NFL, including eight in two stints with the Cleveland Browns.
Warfield played for the Miami Dolphins from 1970-74. He was a member of the Browns' NFL Championship team of 1964 and was with the Dolphins when they won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1972 and 1973 seasons.
Warfield was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983, which was his first year of eligibility.
Warren's recognition of its great sons and daughters shouldn't end on Sept. 12. The city has produced many other great people, in addition to the great athletes mentioned above. There are people like late astronaut Ron Parise, as great in his field perhaps as Warfield was in football.
It's important to show youths what they can achieve after growing up in Warren.
Payiavlas, Yannucci, Warren City Schools Athletic Director Paul Trina, Nick Frankos, Kelli Keagy, Steve Papalas and McLain are to be commended for completing the Warfield project. We call on others to turn this success into momentum that results in similar projects to honor others.