The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 6, 2013

BILL EGGERT | Arky Vaughan an overlooked superstar

— Baseball season is just around the corner, and thoughts of local fans turn to our beloved Buccos.

Hope springs eternal for Pirate fans. We have suffered through losing droughts before.

Do you remember the “Rickey-Dink” Bucs of the 1950s?

But fans take comfort with the knowledge that the Bucs did win a handful of world championships over the past hundred-plus years: 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979.

Additionally, the Bucs were graced with many Hall of Fame players over the years. Their greatest was one of the first five elected: Local (Carnegie, Allegheny County) hero

Honus Wagner, arguably the greatest shortstop ever to play the game.

The Bucs have been blessed with several noteworthy slick-fielding (and some respected hitters) playing at shortstop, including Jack Wilson, Gene Alley, Dick Groat and the second greatest Pirate shortstop (after Honus): Arky Vaughan.

Back in the 1980s, I asked my dad who his favorite Pirate was growing up in Pittsburgh. His answer was quick and decisive: Arky Vaughan, who played shortstop for the Pirates for

10 seasons, from 1932-1941.

Dad, who was born in 1928, literally grew up watching Arky play for the Bucs at Forbes Field. I never asked Dad why Vaughan was his favorite, I just assumed he was a good player.

I did not realize how good he was until I started looking at his statistics and records, including one that still stands: The highest single-season Pirate batting average (.385 in 1935) of all time. In fact, Vaughn hit .300 or better his entire time in Pittsburgh.

Arky Vaughan was a remarkable ballplayer and athlete. He was only 20 years old when he joined the Bucs as a rookie.

Blessed with good speed, range, batting eye, offensive power and clutch hitting, Vaughn had it all. The Pirates even hired the legend himself, Wagner as a coach to mentor Vaughan to refine his fielding ability.

Add to that, Vaughan was a noteworthy individual as well. He commanded the respect and admiration of teammates and opposing players throughout his career.

A quiet, unassuming and loyal individual, Vaughan was a player’s player.

Former teammates such as pitcher Rip Sewell spoke of Vaughan in superlatives in every facet of his game.

Legendary sportswriter Red Smith called Arky  “baseball’s most superbly forgotten man.”

And former Brooklyn Dodgers’ rookie Jackie Robinson remembered Vaughan’s kindness years later.

“He was one fellow who went out of his way to be nice to me when I was a rookie,” Robinson recalled.

The one thing that bugged Dad was that despite Arky Vaughan’s many accomplishments he was never voted into the Hall of Fame. Finally, in 1985, the Veteran’s Committee corrected that gross injustice. I was happy for Arky and for Dad. Justice finally prevailed for the quiet man from Arkansas.

Vaughan died tragically at the age of 40. An avid outdoorsman, Vaughn died trying to save a friend from drowning when he capsized the boat they were fishing in. While 5-feet-10 and 175 pounds, Vaughan’s much larger friend panicked and pulled both men underwater.

After Vaughan was voted into the Hall, Arky’s family received a handwritten letter from a former high school teammate who played football with Arky in California. He spoken in glowing terms of Arky.

The letter writer was former President Richard Nixon.

Arky Vaughan had fans from all walks of life.  

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident. He writes an occasional column. 

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • bank1 West End bank robbed

    The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • weather_2 Old Man Winter returns to area

    Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 15, 2014

  • City seeks support for sewer revamp

    The city is looking for backup from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in spreading what they call “true” facts and figures regarding the city’s encompassing sewer revamp.

    April 15, 2014

  • Airport gets lift with $180G grant

    The John Murtha Johnstown–Cambria County Airport needs to replace some basic maintenance equipment: a pickup truck, painting machine, chain saw, weed eater, hand tools and more.
    So, on Tuesday, the airport’s authority agreed to accept Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation grant money that already has been tentatively allocated.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cresson asks court to force ex-chief to sign pact

    An agreement reached more than a month ago between Cresson Borough Council and its former police chief still has not been signed, and the borough is asking a judge to intervene.

    April 15, 2014

  • hamer 16 Mom told to seek help for addiction

    A Johnstown woman charged with tossing her 4-month-old baby and with drug-related offenses pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Cambria County court on Tuesday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • District hopes refinancing will save additional $40G

    Refinancing about $4 million in debt will result in savings more than twice as large as initially expected, Windber Area school board members learned Tuesday night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Elder justice events set

    In an effort to combat elder abuse in area communities, an elder justice seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 at the Johnstown Senior Center, 550 Main St., downtown Johnstown. In addition, a free elder abuse clergy training seminar will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 25 at Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown.

    April 15, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/16/2014

    April 15, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads