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Stein Home, 853 Vienna Avenue
people in Niles will remember the names Herb and Russ
Stein as great football players from Niles. They were the first
and only brothers from Niles to become All- Americans and play professional
Russ and Herb Stein were sons of Frederick David Stein
and Nancy Eaton Troxel Stein. It was their maternal great
grandfather, Daniel Heaton who had built the first iron
furnace in the Western Reserve. Russ was born in 1896 and two years
later, Herb was born.
During the early 1900’s, Cherry
and Lafayette Streets ended in a pasture of Stein’s farm.
Their home was located on 853 Vienna Avenue. Frank Stein was a farmer
and a hard task master. He demanded work be completed before fun
began and it was told that in order for the boys to play on the
football team, they first had to get the crops in from the fields
and do their chores. One time the whole football team had to go
help get the crops in so that the Stein brothers could play in the
game. They were both strong, competitive players who loved the game
Back in the early 1900’s,
Niles football teams were in the limelight all over the area.
Those were the years when teams were coached by a man who later
would become Municipal Judge,
W.W. Griffin. For a couple of years he had been building
teams that were tops around here. He had started in 1911 and by
1913 he had welded together a grid machine that was a great one.
The team they were laying for was Warren, and they got them too.
Actually they made them quit and walk off the field after Niles
ripped off two touchdowns and was well on their way to another
score. Then the Warren coach called his team out of there, claiming
they were getting a raw deal from the officials handling the game…anything
to get away from the licking they were receiving from Niles.
The next year rolled around and
the schedule makers of the high schools got busy arranging games.
Warren absolutely refused to have anything to do with Griffin’s
star-studded team. They knew it would be a disaster. No one could
beat Niles with the Stein boys on the team as well as Reno
Jones, who later became a star performer for Cornell
and Paul Lally, who
made good at quarterback for Washington and Jefferson College.
Warren claimed a technicality to ditch Niles from their schedule
in 1914. Niles went on to play Sharon, winning 62-0 that year.
The names are links to see photos
of the players on the 1914 Niles football team.
W. W. Griffin’s last year as coach, he had developed a wonderful
team. They had everything and plenty to spare. Look at the line.
First and foremost at the roving center was Herb
Stein. He was the toughest man to get through and as fast
as any on the team, uncanny at solving the other fellows plays and
a deadly tackler and blocker. He was simply poison to every team
he played against.
Then there was Reno Jones, Porter
Watson, Ray Holzbach, Stuart
Haggerty, and Paul
Sheehan and Charles
Thomas, two of the
speediest defensive ends that any one would care to see. Back of
that magnificent line was Alan
Gilbert, one of the keenest, craftiest quarterbacks the
Niles school ever had. He was pretty much of a light weight and
was not required to carry the ball as a rule but when occasion demanded
it, he could do a nifty job of it. Left-halfback Paul Lally
was a glittering star of the finest quality, a triple threat man
with a vengeance. He was hard to lay hands on and besides he could
pass and throw forward passes to perfection. He was a dead sure
goal kicker too. His running mate, Harry
Stevens was not far behind. Stevens was of stocky build
and slippery as a pane of glass, and was a holy terror and a ground
gainer all year
fullback on this great team was Russ
Stein, another triple-threat performer. When he hit the
opposing line it was like the force of all out war. This lad was
a sure-fire thrower of passes, could boot the ball a mile, more
or less, on punts and he always placed the punts right where he
wanted them to be, away from the other fellows.
Coach Griffin had a wonderful team that year and he introduced a
galaxy of trick plays, including his own version of the Minnesota
shift that paralyzed all opposition. The Judge’s word was
law and the boys on that team knew it and obeyed it to the letter.
Now, the 1914 team smashed everything in its path to start the season
and fans all over the city were excited. When the day came along
for Niles to lock horns and play Sharon there was an enormous crowd
of backers who made arrangement to attend. It was necessary for
Niles to run a special train over to Sharon to accommodate the crowd.
That year Sharon was acclaimed champion of Western Pennsylvania
and had not suffered defeat for two years. They were considered
the toughest of the tough on the football gridiron and there was
some doubt in the minds of quite a few over the results, but the
majority were confident that our boys would come out on top.
Gilbert's Gridiron Brass Band at the
Niles-Meadville 1914 football game.
Score: Niles -34, Meadville-0.
report of the game written by Ray Gilbert for the Niles
“ What a game Niles did play
with Sharon that day. For a matter of about ten minutes, Sharon
held our boys even. Then Griffin’s team began to click and
it was just too bad for those would-be champions of the state of
Pennsylvania. They went thru them, around them, and over the top
so fast and furious that the Niles rooting section went simply “nutty”.
Sharon couldn’t keep the ball in their possession at all to
speak of and would either fumble or punt. Then that swift backfield
combination of Gilbert, Stevens, Lally and Stein
would sweep through for great gains, seemingly at will. Touchdown
after touchdown was registered on the luckless Sharonites so fast
that it was hard to keep count of them and Paul Lally didn’t
miss the kick for extra points but once. It was a thrilling exhibition
and one never to be forgotten. The superintendent of Sharon School
was so shocked at this spectacle that he wrung his hands and shed
A gentleman named Cutts, All-American center for Harvard
the year before was the referee, and a good one too. After the game
he remarked that it was very doubtful any team in America could
have held their own with Niles that day. It was such a smashing
victory that several hundred “crazy” rooters from Niles
snake-danced all over Sharon streets after it was all over.
Oh! Yes! I forgot to tell you the final score, Niles 62- Sharon
They played Rayen winning 10-6, Beaver Falls 34-7, Ashtabula Harbor
43-0, Barberton 57-0, Salem 20-6 , Meadville 34-0 and East Liverpool
31-0 that year. There were only around 250 students in the Niles
high school, most of those schools that Niles played against, had
far more students
Football fathers of 1914 taken at
the Meadville vs Niles game. LtoR: Charles Stevens, Ed Gilbert,
Dave Thomas, Fred Stein, W. Jones, Tom Hall (former mayor of
to the school newspaper, The Hi Crier, on December 17, 1914 the
high school football team was given its “Annual Feed”
at the home of Russell and Herbert Stein on Vienna Avenue. Beside
every member of the team being present, there were the fathers of
the players, faculty, the referee and several “rooters”
. All in all there were thirty five people. The menu included Chicken,
mashed and sweet potatoes, vegetables, salad, bread and butter,
Apple and mince meat pie plus cake and ice cream. It was after dinner,
a motion was made to elect a captain for the next year. Russ
Stein was unanimously voted to carry Niles through the 1915
Herb and Russ Stein
Both of the Stein boys went on to play football
in college. Herb played both offensive and defensive line at Pittsburgh
University, unanimous selection two years in succession as All
American center while starring with the Panthers. He was captain
of the legendary coach Pop Warner’s team at Pitt.
Russ played for Washington and Jefferson University in Pennsylvania.
He was named the All-American tackle by Walter Camp and
all other sports writers. Washington & Jefferson played at
the Rose bowl to a scoreless tie, in which Russ received the Most
Valuable Player award. It is unusual for a lineman to receive
the most valuable player award. Russ and Herb were the first brothers
to be named “All-American” in 1921.
In the photograph to the left, the letter 'F'
on their jerseys represents their early NFL careers with the 'Frankford
Yellow Jackets' in 1924. The next year the Stein brothers played
for the Pottsville 'Maroons' and defeated that same Yellow Jackets
Many remember the famous Stein brothers, Russ
and Herb, from Niles, but you may not realize the part they played
in a 1925 game with the Pottsville “Maroons”. The
Maroons dominated the NFL in their inaugural season as they beat
the Chicago Cardinals 21-7. Then they went on to defeat the all-stars
from the University of Notre Dame, featuring the legendary four
horsemen 9-7. In the end, they lost the NFL trophy for that year.
Their story is being told in a new book, written by senior writer
for ESPN The magazine, David Fleming. “Breaker
Boys” is one of National Football League’s
last great untold stories.
David Fleming has brought to life the players,
owners and coaches of the “Maroons” within the pages
of this very interesting book. If you like football, history,
human interest stories, and yes, some things about Niles, you’ll
enjoy this book “Breaker Boys”. The book is available
from the Historical Society at a discount price. Please call the
society for details. 330.544.214 or contact