THOMAS S. FITCH
2000 – MERITORIOUS SERVICE / POSTHUMOUS
Tom Fitch is a charter-member of the Board of Directors of PONY Baseball and Softball, the international youth baseball and girls softball organization founded and headquartered in Washington, PA. Fitch spent much of his life and charitable giving to insure quality sports programs were available to the youth of the greater Washington area.
He came to Washington in 1931 to work at Jessop Steel Company and in the mid-1930’s joined the Board of the Neighborhood House Association, serving that agency the remainder of his life.
Mr. Fitch was President of the Neighborhood House Association in 1940 when the inter-racial Community Council was established which led to the opening of LeMoyne Community Center in 1943. He was a major fundraiser and contributor to LeMoyne Center and helped to develop the LeMoyne Center swimming pool in 1950. As a result of his leadership, the Fitch Gymnasium at LeMoyne Center was opened in 1952.
Following World War II, Fitch organized Washington Steel Corporation which, with Mr. Fitch as its President, came to be a vital part of the area’s economy and social structure. In the early 1950’s, Mr. Fitch worked with famed actor, comedian and humanitarian, Joe E. Brown, and Lew Hays to establish the PONY organization, remaining an active member of that board until his death in 1969. He helped to establish the long-term support of the Pony League World Series by the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and other civic and fraternal organizations, and as an active Rotarian enjoyed selling popcorn in the stands during the Pony Series. Washington Steel was a continuing contributor to the building and development of the original Pony League baseball field, now Lew Hays Pony League Field, in Washington Park.
The Brownson House was also a major part of the Neighborhood House Association and its programs began to flourish with the arrival of Director Arthur Sandusky in the mid-1950’s. He worked well with Mr. Fitch and often remarked that if he needed anything for the Brownson House, he had only to call Tom Fitch. When a new gymnasium was needed to accomodate expanded Brownson House activities in 1962, it was built of Microrold Stainless Steel, produced at Washington Steel and provided at a generous discount. Bob Prince, the voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and an associate of Fitch on the PONY board, provided the keynote address when that gym was also named for Mr. Fitch.