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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Campbell native played 13 seasons in pros

Ralph Goldston, 82
Staff report
Ralph Goldston, a football star at Campbell Memorial and Youngstown State who helped integrate the Philadelphia Eagles in the early 1950s, has died. He was 82.
Goldston graduated in 1947 from Campbell Memorial, where he was one of the finest players for legendary coach John Knapick. He went to Indiana University, lettering one season, before returning to Youngstown State.
He was an 11th-round draft pick in 1952 of the Philadelphia Eagles, and he, along with Don Stevens of Illinois, were the first two African-Americans on the Eagles’ roster.
“I didn’t know about any color line,” Goldston said in 2005 interview with “I didn’t find out that I was the first [black player] until I was there for awhile. It wasn’t a big deal. Don and I were treated the same as the other rookies.”
According to Goldston, it was only an issue when the team traveled. In several cities, he said, he and Stevens were forced to stay in a different hotel. He said the arrangement had its advantages. “All it meant,” he said, “was Don and I didn’t have a curfew.”
Goldston played three years in the NFL — he missed the entire 1953 season with a broken leg he suffered in an exhibition game — before going to the Canadian Football League, where he played 10 seasons and won two Grey Cups with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1957 and 1963.
Joe Malmisur played for East High, which had a great rivalry with Campbell in those days.
“The East High-Campbell Memorial game wasn’t a game; it was a war,” said Malmisur. “We competed like crazy against each other and actually played together in the 1946 WKBN North-South All-Star game.
“In 1946, the Red Devils had a tremendous record and we had already knocked off New Castle in the season opener, so we weren’t exactly chopped liver. In a hard fought game for both teams, we were able to knock them off but it was a real battle and Ralph, as usual, was a big part the Red Devils’ offense.”
After retiring as an active player, Goldston spent 30 years as a college coach (Harvard and Colorado) and finally a scout for the Seattle Seahawks.
“Ralph was one of the toughest, most competitive athletes that the Mahoning Valley has ever produced,” said Ken Brayer, who graduated from Campbell Memorial in 1956. “He was always appreciative of the opportunity that Coach Knapick gave him at Campbell Memorial and Dike Beede at Youngstown College. He coached at Harvard and to this day they still talk of his many Goldstonisms that were echoed on the practice field.”
Retired Youngstown State police officer Jim Gray was a childhood friend of Goldston. He remembered Goldston for his encouragement of young people.
“As kids, our backyards butted up against each other and for 76 years we had what I considered a marvelous friendship,” said Gray. “You will read a lot about Ralph’s athletic accomplishments and rightfully so. However, there are many, many young men today living a wonderful life because he cared enough to help get them into college. He wanted to make sure that they received an education in order to become a productive member of society when they graduated. Quite frankly, his advice always seemed to be right on the money.”
Campbell Memorial compiled a 19-5-5 record in Goldston’s three varsity seasons. Three of his most well-known touchdowns came in victories against Chaney, Struthers and Steubenville. He had a 63-yard touchdown run in the aforementioned WBKN all-star game in 1946.
“Being a Campbell native and Memorial High grad, you were always reminded of the football exploits of a handful of Red Devils stars and Ralph Goldston was always on the short list of his alma mater’s all-time greats,” said former Youngstown State sports information director Greg Gulas. “He also starred for the Penguins under Dike Beede and was their second ever professional football player.
“What I admired most about Ralph was that he always told it like it was. He never sugar coated anything and he didn’t care if it offended you. Ralph was a trailblazer who remained passionate about his Mahoning Valley roots.”
Paul McFadden, the Chief Development Officer at Youngstown State who also played for the Eagles, remembered Goldston as “a pioneer in our [YSU] football program.”
“He was a very visible mentor during my playing days. He always had a word of encouragement for you, but was also quick to point out any flaws if we expected to improve our game,” McFadden said.
He is survived by his wife, Sarah, one son, Ralph Jr., three daughters, Ursula, Beverly and Monique, and five grandchildren. The funeral will take place on Saturday at Sterling McCullough Williams Funeral Home, 632 Belmont Ave.

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