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.
Tom Fitch also served on the Boards of Washington & Jefferson College,
Washington Hospital, the Community Chest (now United Way) and in a
variety of other ways, including a term as Mayor of the City of
Washington, to improve the quality of life in this area. Though his
personal athletic involvement was that of an avid golfer, he made
possible a wide variety of athletic experience for the young people of