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Jimmy Palermo, during a historic 7-day span in May, 1939, saw the meteoric rise of Williams and tragic decline of Gehrig.
An exclusive WIWAG ongoing feature.
The field seemed vast to a 7-year old who had looked forward to this day for two months.
BREAKING THE COLOR LINE
The year marks the 60th anniversary of the first major league tryout for black players.
Bud Fowler is the first know black players on an integrated team.
of the '50s
Qualify as Grade A10.
First sports bar featured 12-inch Farnsworth TV.
Two unsuspecting vintage baseball fans rediscover a "National Treasure."
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FAMILY BUSINESS: Mary Palermo (behind bar, top photo) along with sons Jimmy, left, and Joe, serve up some brews for their patrons in 1935. Above left, patrons enjoy a favorite brew and sports event on the Farnsworth television. Above right, Jimmy Palermo tends bar in 1949. America's Original Sports Bar was founded in 1933 right after the Volstead Act was modified to allow for the legalization of beer and was a gathering place for sports figures and fans.
Sports Bar format has roots
in family tavern founded during the early '30s
HIGH TECH: In 1947 America's Original Sports Bar became a popular gathering place every Friday night to have a favorie brew and watch the fights on the newest technology a 12-inch Farnsworth television like this one.
America's Original Sports Bar was located adjacent to the left field gates of Sportsman Park in St. Louis home at the time to both the Cardinals and Browns
Years before the advent of Buffalo wings, satellite
hookups or wide-screen television, Palermo’s neighborhood tavern
could take title as America’s Original Sports Bar. Always a comfortable,
friendly meeting place since it’s founding in 1933, the tavern
took on its "sports bar" personality right after World War
CHIPPING COAL FOR A NICKEL A TON
By 1946, Paul Palermo,
the proprietor, had a long career in what was then
called the "saloon" business.
A Sicilian immigrant, he had worked in the coal
mines of Southern Illinois in the 1890s as a child.
At age 12, he took care of the mules that hauled
the coal carts through the mines, and by the time
he was 15 he was chipping coal for a nickel a ton.
Paul figured he didn’t
have much of a future in the mines when a cave-in
killed his partner.
FIRST OF ITS KIND: Rose Palermo serves customers from the first hot dog stand located outside the gates of Sportsman's Park.
Business was good for Paul as he acquired five more
saloons along the "shoot" during a four-year period. In 1918
he sold his holdings in East St. Louis and opened a saloon at Cardinal
and Easton in St. Louis. Although the saloon did well, the end was near
as congress passed the Volstead Act in October 1919. With prohibition
slated to begin in 1920, Paul decided to open confectionery stores,
which were sort of a precursor to today’s neighborhood convience
stores like 7-11.
In February of 1923, Paul and his wife, Mary, purchased
the property at 3701 Sullivan, a two-story brick
structure across the street from the ballpark.
The front half of the bottom floor was used
as the confectionery store. The rear was converted
into living quarters to accommodate Paul, Mary,
their two sons Joe and Jimmy, and Paul’s
HALL OF FAMER Jim Bottomley would drop by America's Original Sports Bar to enjoy Sicilian-cooked meals.
Mary ran the confectionery store, which sold everything
needed in an early 20th century city dwelling including dry goods, canned
goods, bread, eggs, cigarettes, cigars, candy, ice cream and even hardware
items. Ball players and coaches from both leagues frequented the establishment
mainly for Mary's cooking, and during prohibition, for Paul’s excellent
homemade wines. Major leaguers also dropped in regularly to
buy smokes, chewing tobacco and gum because it was cheaper in the store
than in the clubhouse.During the rebuilding of the area’s surrounding
streets and improvements to Sportsman’s Park in 1925 and 1926, Mary
added a small restaurant inside the confectionery to accommodate all the
construction workers. The store was remodeled to allow for four tables
and a long shelf attached to the wall for stand-up patrons.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Paul Palermo, right, and Joe Schmidt man the hot dog stand on a Summer afternoon before a Cardinals game in 1938. Paul and his 11-year old son, Joe, built the first hot dog stand outside of Sportsman Park in April of 1923.
By the time World War II ended Paul had experienced
some health problems and Jimmy had spent the last four years in the Army.
That left only Joe to look after the family's five taverns. Upon returning
from Europe in March of '46, Jimmy expected to go back to his professional
umpiring career. But because his father was ill, and Joe needed his help,
he joined the family business.
Business boomed in the post-war years as the Cardinals
drew large crowds and nearby Carter Carburetor had shifts running 24
hours a day. To accommodate all the workers, the tavern opened at 7
a.m. The early birds enjoyed a hearty breakfast, and many had a shot
or two before clocking in.
FAVORITE GATHERING PLACE
Once a few of the photos were hung, the tavern's
walls rapidly filled up with framed pictures of many of the Browns
and Cardinal players of
the day. Then in 1947, the tavern became a favorite gathering place every
Friday night to have a beer and watch the fights
on the newest technology
- a 12-inch Farnsworth television. Thereafter, Palermo's Tavern, already
a recognized stop-off before or after a Browns
or Cardinals game, became
a destination to listen to, or watch, sporting events while enjoying
a favorite brew.
KING OF BEER: When Gussie Busch purchased the Cardinals in February 1953, he enjoyed stopping by America's Original Sports Bar to shake hands and buy everybody a few rounds.
Palermo's Tavern, a forerunner in establishing the sports bar format,
offered all of the popular games of the day including billiards, table
shuffleboard, pinball and once a week in the kitchen - poker. When
event wasn't on television or radio, a jukebox belted out a favorite
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