BAWP Presents The Nancy Kolb Award

by Michel Burch

Parkside is quickly becoming a thriving, bustling community. New businesses and people move into our area every day. No group is more aware of this then the Business Association of West Parkside (BAWP).

BAWP was formed in 1987 to help the needs of businesses in the Penn West Park Enterprise Zone.

Since that time BAWP has been stewarding the Parkside region. One of their many efforts to bring recognition to the Parkside region was the creation of the Nancy Kolb Award.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 8.53.20 AMThe Nancy Kolb award was created in 2009 to recognize the contributions of Nancy Kolb to the West Parkside and greater Philadelphia area, upon Ms. Kolb’s retirement from the Please Touch Museum as its long- time president and CEO.

The award recognizes a business and its leadership which exemplifies Nancy Kolb’s business acumen and commitment to being an interactive, responsive community member.

The award itself is a large model of the Statue of liberty holding the torch and flame.

The original hand was first displayed at the centennial celebration of 1876 near Memorial Hall which is now the Please Touch Museum. It was given to the United States by France to symbolize “Liberty Enlightening the World”.

The BAWP board chose this image, created by the Kinect Corporation for the Please Touch Museum, as a fitting remembrance of the history of the area and the vital role we all play in “enlightening” the communities in which we live, work and own businesses.

Each year the arm is passed on to the business that the board feels best exemplifies the qualities Nancy Kolb instilled in the Please Touch Museum – a sound business model and a commitment to community. The award has gone to the Please Touch Museum (2009) and Brown’s Super Stores (2010), The Mann (2011), and West Philadelphia Financial Services Institute (2012).

Due to the success and response of the Nancy Kolb Award, the Business Association of West Parkside felt that it is only appropriate to add an award honoring a government official and an ambassador of the neighborhood, so in 2012 the West Park Ambassador Award and the Civic Leadership Award were added.

The West Parkside Ambassador Award celebrates an individual who exemplifies the spirit of West Parkside and who, through their efforts and actions, is a tireless advocate for our community and residents.

This award was given to Lucinda Hudson in (2012). The Civic leadership award was given to Rick Redding in (2012) The Civic Leadership Award celebrates an elected or government official who has provided critical leadership and who represents the interest and greater benefit of the Business Association Of West Parkside.

This year’s award winners will be announced in a special recognition awards ceremony held on September 26th. 2013.

West Park in “Stars”

from Wikipedia

The P.R.R. YMCA Athletic Field, also known as Penmar Park and commonly referred to in the 1930s and 1940s as the 44th and Parkside ballpark, was an athletic field and ballpark in West Philadelphia from 1903 to the early 1950s. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad YMCA. It was the home of the Pennsylvania Railroad YMCA of Philadelphia football club, often called the “Railroaders”, from 1903 through 1905, and the Philadelphia Stars Negro league baseball club from 1936 until 1952. The field was also used as a multi-sport athletic field used by the local community. During the 1930s the field was the site of home football games of Overbrook High School and St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. Overbrook also played their home baseball games there. For example, thePhiladelphia College of Pharmacy held 1906 Commencement Week “Athletic Games” at the field.The independent Norfolk Black Bombers all-black barnstorming football team played the Washington Willow Trees on Thanksgiving Day 1942 at the park.[3] Stars co-owner Eddie Gottlieb organized a semi-professional baseball team called the “All-Phillies” which played at the field in its later years.

The field first opened on May 3, 1903. The ballpark itself was erected in the 1920s. Lights were added in 1933 to allow for night games.[5]

Behind the park’s right-field fence stood the roundhouse of the main yard of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Stars player Stanley Glenn would later recount how smoke and soot from the coal-powered trains would waft into the ballpark. Glenn recalls that the Stars would often stop their games until the smoke had cleared from the field.[7] Players recalled the field being rarely manicured resulting in the grass growing high.

Ballpark capacity is said to have been 5,000  to 6,000 people. Overflow crowds would bring attendance up to 10,000.

Philadelphia Stars Baseball

The ballpark was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad and Stars co-owner Eddie Gottlieb leased it from the Railroad for the club. The Stars played their home games at the ballpark with the exception of Monday nights when the Stars would play in North Philadelphia at Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics and starting in 1938, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Negro League emblem
Negro League emblem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Biographer Mark Ribowsky documented that Pittsburgh Crawfords catcher Josh Gibson hit a long home run in a game against the Stars early in the 1936 season that flew out of the ballpark. The ballpark was home to another famous incident, in which Satchel Paige was working on a perfect game through eight innings. In the ninth, after three intentional walks, Paige was so sure of himself that he told his seven fielders to lie down on the field. Paige struck out the side on nine pitches.[5]

Negro League World Series games were often played at neutral game-sites to attract larger crowds. The Cleveland Buckeyes beat the Homestead Grays in game 4 of the 1945 Series at 44th and Parkside. Game 3 of the 1947 Series was also played at the Park in which the Buckeyes faced the New York Cubans.

Amazingly, the ballpark remained sturdy despite a woman named Miss Hattie Williams chopping wood from the grandstand with a hatchet most days. She used the wood as firewood to heat the washtub where she cooked the hot dogs for her concession stand behind home plate.


Across Belmont Avenue from the Memorial Park is the mural “Philadelphia Stars: a tribute to Negro League baseball”. The mural is part of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. It was painted by Philadelphia artist David McShane, and dedicated on September 19, 2006. The mural has been described as an “impressionistic collage of scenes”; McShane consulted with surviving Stars players on their memories of the ballpark before creating the work. The mural was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green Program, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, and the Business Association of West Parkside (which had also organized the creation of the Memorial Park). Former Stars players Glenn, Gould, Cash, and Duckett attended the dedication, as well as Phillies players Michael BournChris Roberson, and the artist McShane.

Home Grown Hoops Star

by Michael Burch

Local Hoops Star Jai Williams in his Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter Basketball Uniform
Local Hoops Star Jai Williams in his Philadelphia Electrical & Technology Charter Basketball Uniform

Each year in this city we have promising young people head off to college and Parkside is no exception. In fact it’s a little special this year as the 4200 block of Viola Street’s own Jai Williams heads off to College.

Jai, is something of a local star with his talented skills in Basketball. Jai Williams was easily one of the best high school basketball players in the city. Williams, is a 6-foot-7, 240 pound recent graduate ofPhiladelphia Electrical & Technology Charter’s basketball team.

He’s a tremendous player who recently made the decision that he’s taking his “game” to the Saint Joseph’s Hawks team. “I feel really good about the decision,” Williams said. “I like Saint Joseph’s The School is not too far from my house. I live in West Philly. I can stay in touch with my family.”

Already spending the summer on Saint Joseph’s campus and experiencing a brief stint overseas in Italy Jai, is well prepared for an outstanding college career. We look forward to seeing the wonderful things the future holds in store for this promising Viola Street graduate. We wish you all the best Jai!!

News that is from, about, and benefits our Parkside Community in West Philadelphia.