You Asked: Small towns boast big names

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Q: It was nice reading about Happy Jack Chesbro (although no mention of North Adams for him whereas Pittsfield and Williamstown mentioned for Frank Grant). We are proud of him and of Oswald Tower who is in the Basketball Hall of Fame. My question is: Is there another small city or town of our size — North Adams now 13,000 formerly 24,000 — with native sons and/or former residents in both Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame? I think it's quite an accomplishment to have two so honored.

— Justyna Carlson, Secretary of the North Adams Historical Society

A: North Adams is one of the smaller communities to boast two Hall-of-Famers. The smallest community, though, is tiny Calvert, Texas (population 1,309), the town where Baseball Hall-of-Famers Rube Foster (inducted in 1981) and his brother Bill Foster (1996) were born. Another small town, Harrah, Okla. (population 5,065), also has two Baseball Hall-of-Famers, Lloyd Waner (inducted in 1967) and brother Paul (1952).

Those are the two examples we found in what might be described as the "major" sports Halls of Fame: Baseball, Basketball and Football. There are so many Halls of Fame these days, from the Game Show Broadcasters Hall of Fame to the Curling Hall of Fame, that there are probably more. For example, folksinger Bob Dylan hails from Hibbing, Minn. (population 16,040). He's an inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Celtic star Kevin McHale, also from Hibbing, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Chesbro, inducted in 1943 to the Baseball Hall of Fame, was considered a workhorse even for his time. His 41 wins and 53 complete games in the thrilling 1904 AL pennant race remain a record. Tower, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959, is one of the most unique inductees in that Hall. Tower was an outstanding player for Williams College, earning All-Amerixan honors in 1907. But after his career, he worked as a coach and administrator. His greatest contribution was codifying the rules of the game. When basketball was invented in Springfield in 1892, it spread rapidly throughout the country and beyond. But rules differed wildly from region to region, including variations on the number of players and how many points a field goal was worth. Tower was the principal force behind creating a national rule book, which enabled inter-sectional collegiate and high school play. He is truly one of the great figures in the game.

Q: Almost every night in Pittsfield, past midnight, CSX freight trains sound their horns frequently and loudly while traveling through the city, audible from miles away. Since there are no longer any railroad crossings in the city, why are the train horns necessary?

— Bob McDonough, Pittsfield, Mass.

A: We hear you, Bob! And those air horns, too! So we checked in with the folks at the Federal Railroad Association.

Here is their answer to your question:

"We appreciate that the sound of air horns can be disruptive to some people, but in the interest of public safety locomotive engineers are required by law to sound their horns at crossings, tunnels, bridges, passenger and commuter rail stations, as well as any situation that may, in their estimation, present a safety threat. Federal law requires that engineers sound their air horns in a four-signal sequence: Two long, one short and one long."

So, while there are no road crossings along the rail line, there is a passenger stop in the city. Hence the horns.

Do you have a question you'd like answered? Email youasked@berkshireeagle.com or write to The Berkshire Eagle, Attn: You Asked, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.


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