Louis Collins

Louie Collins

Louis Collins was born in Jamestown December 4, 1890. He played left end and was captain of the 6-0-1 Jamestown High School football team of 1909, which outscored its opponents 102-22 with four shutouts, including a 0-0 deadlock with Meadville. Collins performed at end for three seasons, weighing only 128 pounds and was fast as a deer in the open field.

In the spring of 1910, he played third base on the 7-0 baseball squad that outscored the opposition 59-16. While in high school, Collins also went out for basketball, but the team was disbanded when some of the players made off with a tub of ice cream left in the gym for a teachers' party.

Collins graduated in 1910 and played baseball, football and basketball at the YMCA and was one of the original members of the well-known Spirals basketball team. His baseball career ended, believe it or not, when he hurt his arm throwing green apples. While playing for the YMCA football team, he was on the field the day the locals whipped Alfred University, 88-0, in a scrimmage. The Alfred team was so banged up it was forced to postpone its next game.

Collins performed for the All-Jamestown football team, an independent outfit noted for its big men, but Collins certainly held his own for several seasons although he was only 5-foot-5 and 120 pounds. "It was a thrill of a lifetime for me to be asked to play with those fellows," said Collins in an article written by the late Post-Journal sports editor Frank Hyde.

Ad from 1949 Jamestown Falcons program

Collins additionally played football in the 1920s for the Detroit Tops and Bamby Bread here in Jamestown and the Buffalo Blackrecks in Buffalo.

For eight years, he was a basketball standout for the Spirals. The latter played the finest clubs in Jamestown, Buffalo, Cleveland, Syracuse and Rochester. They lost to the famed Buffalo Gormans, winners of the Pan-American games, by only a 62-60 count in Buffalo.

Collins started Collins Sport Shop on East Third Street in Jamestown in 1914. It had two locations on East Third Street before moving to Cherry Street where it went out of business in the latter part of the 1980s. It also had a store at the Chautauqua Mall.

He formed the Chautauqua County Baseball League in 1921 and that league is now known as the County-Grape Belt League. It is the longest continuous operating amateur baseball league in the country.

Louie Collins

Collins put together Class A, B, C, and D Baseball Leagues in Jamestown and formed softball leagues for both men and women. His major effort was obtaining sponsors. "I tramped the streets for many miles and about every road in the county looking for people to back the sports programs," he stated.

He attended the national semi-pro tournament at Wichita one year with the Jamestown team. There he was presented a plaque by Ray Dumont, who headed up the National Semi-Pro Baseball Congress in appreciation of his efforts for sandlot baseball.

One of Collins' major promotions in baseball was bringing the New York State Semi-Pro Tournament to Municipal Stadium, now Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park.

He also formed tennis, ping-pong, dartball and softball tournaments as well as promoting the first college football game in the city when the Kiwanis Club sponsored the appearance of St. Bonaventure and Waynesburg at the old Washington Junior High School Field.

Kit Klein, an Olympic gold medalist, and Charlie Jewtraw, another Olympic winning skater, along with Bobby McLean were nationally known ice skaters brought to Jamestown by Collins for appearances. Additionally, Collins was able to bring in the famed woman golfer, Babe Zaharias, who also excelled at track and basketball.

Louie Collins holding ball (1910-1911 Outlaws basketball team)

Collins and Murray Davidson organized the Jamestown Skeet Club with Louie being the first secretary. He also staged the first ice carnival held at Lakewood Skating Rink on Chautauqua Lake. He also for several years was secretary for basketball, football and softball leagues around the area. Collins formed the American Air Cadets, a model airplane building club which had several hundred members. Boating was a hobby for Collins and once he took a speedboat to races in Detroit and returned with $500 for his feats. Collins attended hundreds of banquets in which he passed out trophies as well as received many himself. He rubbed elbows with some of the area's finest athletes.

Before the city named Jim Sharp as a salaried city recreation director years ago, people would come to Collins to start a league or help put across some promotion to bring a sports celebrity. Collins kiddingly called himself Jamestown's nonsalaried city recreation director. In 1945, he was the New York Start Commissioner for the National Baseball Congress out of Witchita, Kansas.

Louis Collins passed away on November 22, 1983. He was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

The 1943 Vikings included four CSHOF inductees: Les James in front row, far left; Leo Squinn in back row, far left; Lyle
in back row, third from right; and Louie Collins in back row, far right.

Jersey from 1960 Babe Ruth League team sponsored by
Louie Collins.

courtesy of Craig Underwood


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Hall of Fame
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