Last week at the Phillips K-5 on the south side of Pittsburgh fearless young mibsters approached a raised round platform with a handful of marble. They squatted down to examine the marble balls scattered around the ring, looking for which ones would be easier to knock out of the circle. They compared the shooters with which the balls pushed other balls, admiring their different colors and sizes, preparing for the day of the tournament.
In the district of Allegheny is not yet spring, until there are mibsters, or marble players. Alegen County is “marble greenhouse”Which boasts a nearly 50-year annual marble program for children under 14 with a family heritage of many generations that is accompanied.
“Here brothers teach brothers, cousins teach cousins, and when they grow old, they teach their children,” he says. Ed Richie, whose grandfather, Walt Liz, began a marble program in the 1950s at Pittsburgh Citiparks. “He was a math teacher who played billiards. He applied pool physics to marble and came up with some of the shooting styles we have today. ”
Beginning in late March or early April each year, in Allegheny County weekly marble tournaments across the region, where children under the age of 14 and younger will be able to learn the game and compete for a place in the county championship, which will be held from Thu., May 19 to Saturday, May 21 in the courtyard of the Alegen County Court.
Marbles is an individual skill game that requires competing players to knock out the most balls in the ring. Mibsters run a marble, called a shooter, into 13 balls that are already in the center of the circle. The one who knocks out the most balls is the winner.
“I’ve been shooting marble all my life,” Richie said I say. “My grandfather ran the city league in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, so I grew up with marble.”
Liz passed on her love of the game to each succeeding generation of her family, and he and his family brought marble to hundreds of children in Allegheny County. Ed’s daughter, Amber Richie, was the 2008 National Marble Tournament champion at the age of 12. Their youngest daughter, Sierra, won the national tournament in 2017. Ed met his wife Maureen Richie, who organizes county marble programs. at the National Competition in Wildwood, New Jersey, and his older sister Denise Ritchie took second place in 1978.
Some of Richie’s marble memorabilia includes an instrument by which Walt measured marble and The Great American Marble Bookpublished in 1973 and secured with adhesive tape, as well as records of national marble champions since 1922.
In 1974, Citiparks was forced to cut the marble program for budgetary reasons, reports Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Liz was smart enough to ask the county to pick up the program from the hands of the city. The county then hired his daughter and Ed’s mother, Caroline Liz (now Richie), to run the program.
The marble program of Allegheny County was created 33 national champions since the start of the tournament in 1922, according to TribLive, and 14 since 2004. Associated Press reports that Allegheny County is home to more national marble champions than in any other part of the country.
But why Allegheny County has released so many national marble champions, no one knows for sure. Ann Madarash, chief historian and director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Senator John Heinz History Center, compares Pittsburgh’s national marble success is in other sports in which Pittsburgh teams typically develop, such as football and hockey.
“After the national championships began in 1922, the people of Allegheny district began to use coaching to develop the champions,” said Madaras. TribLive in 2013.
Richie attributes some of the program’s successes in the county to strong support from the Parks Department and the County’s Allegheny Richie Fitzgerald County Executive.
“We are lucky to have a sponsor with county parks and Rich Fitzgerald. Many areas do not have such support, ”Richie said I say. “It gives us a slight advantage.”
The marble program is also free for participants, and all local district winners will head to the 99th National Marble Tournament in Wildwood in June, where the winner will take home a $ 2,000 scholarship, marble clock, trophy and board. Along with serious praise.
Allegheny County Marble Tournament.
Times are different. Thu., May 19 – Saturday, May 21. Courtyard of Alegen County. street Grant, 436, downtown. tinyurl.com/ACMarbles