Gateway Class of 1959
With Monroeville and Pitcairn experiencing rapid growth in their school enrollment in the 1950’s, the two communities decided to join together to form one school district. Gateway Senior High School became a reality in 1956. In September 1958, classes began in an uncompleted building. By December 1958, the school was completed and dedicated shortly thereafter. Jim Fritchman was part of the original senior class that attended that first fall.
If you get a chance to review the first Gateway yearbook from the class of 1959, you’ll see that in addition to his outstanding football career and outstanding track & field career, Jim Fritchman was one popular Gateway student. He was a member of Gateways’ first Student Council and was elected Class Treasurer by his fellow students. He was also voted King of our first Coronation Ball.
Jim was an outstanding student athlete. Having attended Pitcairn High School, Jim was obviously one of Pitcairns’ better athletes and ready for the transition from old to new. In the fall of 1958, Jim was a member of the first football team ever assembled in the new Gateway High School. That first season, the fall of 1958, was the first ever sports competition for Gateway High. Since the WPIAL could not class Gateway for that first season, all games were considered exhibition games. Also, since our brand new stadium was not complete, home games were played on Saturday nights at the old Westinghouse Memorial Stadium in Wilmerding. That season, the Gators compiled a record of 7-1-1. Jim Fritchman was an integral part of that first football team. He was co-captain that first football season. He played receiver on offense and defensive back on defense. Jim Fritchman was a star. He was an outstanding receiver with great hands and breakaway speed. His leadership abilities and qualities were unmatched. He was selected to the Dapper Dan High School All Star Team, a very prestigious honor back in 1959. According to the 1959 year book, Jim caught five touchdown passes totaling 208 yards on just those five receptions.
Jim was an outstanding track & field participant. According to his coaches, he was the star of the 1959 Gateway Track Team. He had it all. He was big, strong and extremely fast. He competed for the Gators in the 100 yard dash, 220 yard dash, 880 yard medley and the broad jump. His fastest time in the
100 yard dash was 10.3 seconds and 22.8 seconds in the 220. One of the highlights of his track career was, in 1959, a duel against Braddock speedster Ben Howell. Ben was a star on Braddock’s undefeated football teams of that era. He was undefeated in the 100. Jim smoked him in the 100, beating him by almost 5 yards.
Jim was the recipient of a full athletic scholarship to the University of Dayton. Shortly thereafter, Jim returned home and transferred to Grove City College where he played tight end on the varsity football team. Jim passed away in 1993 at the age of 51. The Gateway Sports Hall of Fame is extremely proud to have Jim as one of it’s newest members and would like to thank his son Todd for coming to our induction ceremony to accept on his fathers behalf.