Marion County’s Famous Sports FiguresJuly 12, 2016
Marion County may be famous for pepperoni rolls, but this area has produced much more than bread and meat—it boasts a long list of legendary sports figures!
Check out this list of Marion County’s most famous sons and daughters of the sports world:
David Carpenter (1985— )
Born in Fairmont and a graduate of East Fairmont High School, Carpenter went on to West Virginia University to play baseball there as a catcher.
The St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in 2006, and since then Carpenter has converted to pitching, playing ball for both minor and major leagues as part of the Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
When baseball season ends and the weather starts to turn, David Carpenter returns home to West Virginia, where a partially-rebuilt 1979 Camaro Z/28 sits in the garage along with two others.
He and his father spend winter hours rebuilding the special car that his parents, Darrell and Barbara, have had since the day they were married.
While in town, catch a game of the East Fairmont Bees and see if you can spot the next all-American all-star!
Frank Gatski (1921-2005)
A true coal miner’s son, Gatski worked in the coal mines as a high school student before accepting a football scholarship to Marshall University.
During World War II, Gatski served on the European front as a Private First Class before coming home to play football. Marshall hadn’t reinstated their football program yet, so Gatski transferred to Auburn University and left his mark as one of Alabama’s greatest players.
Graduation brought him to the Cleveland Browns tryouts, where he played as a celebrated center for both the All-American Football Conference and the NFL.
Once he became starting center for the team, they never hired a back up because the team never needed one. In all his years of playing, Gatski never missed a game or a practice!
Gatki was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985 after winning eight championship!
Sam Huff (1934— )
He went on to play football for West Virginia University before being drafted by the New York Giants and becoming the first NFL player ever featured on the cover of Time magazine!
Huff was drafted to the Washington Redskins and later retired. He was inducted into the College and Pro football Halls of Fame, and later began raising thoroughbred race horses.
In his position as CEO and Chairman for the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic race, he has helped raise thousands of dollars for charity!
Mary Lou Retton (1968—)
“America’s Sweetheart” grew up in Fairmont and attended Fairmont Senior High School before competing in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Competing with a healing knee injury, Retton won the all-around gold medal by .05 points, as well as two silver and two bronze medals.
This new American hero became the first athlete face of Wheaties cereal and an inductee into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
When you visit Fairmont, check out Mary Lou Retton Youth Park for a view of some of Fairmont’s newest celebrity athletes-in-training.
Nick Saban (1951— )
Saban grew up in Monongah and graduated from North Marion High School before attending Kent State University and playing defensive back there. He missed being part of the Kent State shootings by deciding to eat lunch before going to the rally.
After coaching at various other schools, Saban took over as head coach for the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide. He’s led the team to multiple championships and has been listed as the “Most Powerful Coach in Sports” by Forbes.
He and his wife run a foundation to help mentally-challenged children called “Nick’s Kids,” which has raised millions since he began coaching.
Fielding H. Yost (1871-1946)
From the small town of Fairview, Fielding Yost began his college career as a teacher with the Fairmont Normal School before playing football for West Virginia University.
He began coaching at the age of 26, and eventually was hired by the University of Michigan to one of the first career coaching positions.
During his career, he invented the position of linebacker, helped create the first college bowl game and won the 1902 Rose Bowl and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Check out the previous Fairmont Normal School’s new location as Fairmont State University and catch one of the Fighting Falcons football games as the legacy lives on!
While you reminisce over the great sports legacy of Marion County, be sure to visit Woody’s Restaurant, Muriales Italian Restaurant or Colasessano’s Pizza – Bellview location for pictures and memorabilia of those favorite sports greats!