Local author to speak at library

WELLSBURG – Bob Barnett, a former Newell resident, will discuss his new book, “Hillside Fields: A History of Sports in West Virginia,” at 5:30 p.m. June 13 at the Brooke County Public Library.

The book provides a broad view of sports in West Virginia, from well-known athletes Jerry West and Mary Lou Retton to high school sports and the black high school basketball tournament held before integration, and how sports in the Mountain State have been influenced by economics and politics. It explores little-known stories of sport, including the first golf club in the country at Oakhurst Links; the first girls basketball championship in 1919; and West Virginia Wesleyan and Davis and Elkins College’s football triumphs over national powerhouses. Topics range from the first recorded athletic event in West Virginia through the first amateur golf tournaments, the first high school football game in West Virginia to West Virginia’s first national championship team.

Barnett will discuss such local topics as the 1964 West Liberty State College championship baseball team, which featured Follansbee’s Ray Prantil and Wellsburg’s Frank Ujcich and Fred Chambers. Ujcich, Chambers and Barnett will be available to sign books afterward.

Barnett taught sports history classes at Marshall University for 35 years. He graduated from Newell High School and attended West Liberty State College before graduating from Marshall University in 1965.

His first book, “Growing up in the Last Small Town: A West Virginia Memoir,” was about his childhood in Newell in the 1950s.

He and his wife, Lysbeth, have two children and six grandchildren. They now divide their time between homes in Huntington and Sarasota, Fla.

“Hillside Fields,” published by West Virginia University Press, can be purchased on line at wvupress.com or by calling (800) 621-2736.