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Huntington author to discuss book on the history of sports in West Virginia

Jun. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Bob Barnett, a retired Marshall University professor and Huntington-based author, has completed his second book and will discuss and sign copies from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 21 at Empire Books and News at Pullman Square in downtown Huntington.

The book, "Hillside Fields: A History of Sports in West Virginia," is available through West Virginia University Press.

"I tried to cover all of the major athletes and events like Jerry West and Mary Lou Retton," said Barnett, in a news release. "But because West Virginia is a state of small cities, small towns, and even smaller villages many of the local legends are not widely known and in danger of fading from memory. I tried to capture as many of those as possible in Hillside Fields because they are what help define the character of West Virginia."

Barnett and special guests Dorothy Hicks, women's sports pioneer, Carl Ward, Ceredo-Kenova coaching legend, and Chris Parsons, the extremely successful track and cross country coach at Cabell Midland, all of whom are featured in the book, will be available to sign the books and to talk sports.

Hillside Fields provides a broad view of the development of sports in West Virginia. Stories about Jerry West and Mary Lou Retton, and "We are...Marshall" are familiar to everyone. But the little known stories of the development of sports from the first golf club in America at Oakhurst Links to the Greenbrier Classic; from the first girls basketball championship in 1919 to post-Title IX; from racially segregated sports to integrated teams; and from the days when West Virginia Wesleyan and Davis & Elkins beat the big boys in football, help to define the uniqueness of being a West Virginian. Hillside Fields explains how major national trends and events, as well as West Virginia's economic and political conditions, influenced the development of sports in the state.

Local athletes, coaches, and teams are featured throughout the book. Golf champions Bill Campbell, Berridge Long Copen, Pat Carter, and Harold Payne are featured in the golf chapter. West Virginia University's 1942 NIT Championship team shares a chapter with Marshall College's 1947 NAIB Champions. There is an "Ashes to Glory" chapter that covers Marshall football from the 1960s through the championship seasons. Other stories focus on Huntington Douglass basketball, Ceredo-Kenova football, Huntington High basketball, Cabell Midland track and field, and the West Virginia Catholic Basketball Tournament.

Barnett graduated from Marshall University in 1965 and returned to teach in 1972 after earning his doctorate from Ohio State University. Barnett taught sports history classes at Marshall University for 35 years. His first book, "Growing Up in the Last Small Town: A West Virginia Memoir" about coming of age in Newell, W.Va., in the 1950s. He and his wife, Lysbeth, have two children and six grandchildren. They now divide their time between homes in Huntington and Sarasota, Fla.