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Millheim author pens book on Bellefonte High baseball

MILLHEIM — Millheim resident Ralph Gray has released his latest book, “Robby’s Raiders,” which chronicles the history of Bellefonte High School baseball and focuses on the stellar career of Don “Robby” Robinson, who coached the Raiders beginning in 1964. 

Gray, a retired mathematics teacher who taught at Bellefonte and Penns Valley high schools, served as Robinson’s assistant coach from 1964 to 1981.

Robinson replaced Forest Benford as head coach of the Bellefonte High School baseball team in 1964. During that first year, he led the team to its first Central Penn League championship, defeating Philipsburg 7-6.

“We had pretty much a senior ball club (in 1964), and the following year we had to rebuild and we only won a couple games,” said Gray. “Then, in ‘66, ‘67 and ‘68, we won three straight titles, and won a district title in ‘68.”

Robinson’s teams had the best win-loss records of any scholastic teams at Bellefonte High School during his tenure as head coach.

“That success in baseball speaks to Robby’s ability to coach,” said Gray. “He got the best out of them (players).”

According to Gray, Robinson played baseball for Penn State before becoming Bellefonte’s coach, and he played in the Centre County League until he was 48. He took a sabbatical from Bellefonte in 1982, then returned as assistant coach to Denny Leathers for another 18 years.

Gray’s book details the history of baseball at Bellefonte High, beginning in 1911. After the 1925 season, Bellefonte dropped baseball as an interscholastic sport, but resumed it in 1941, at which time it was coached by Glenn Aumiller, who previously coached East Penns Valley High School in Millheim.

‘Robby’s Raiders’ contains many old photos and newspaper clippings from Robinson’s career as a Penn State player and Bellefonte coach, as well as numerous anecdotes from those times.

Gray’s book also mentions baseball being played at the Grange Fair in Centre Hall. Those games between town teams were an integral part of the entertainment at the fair in the 1920s and ’30s.

Gray taught mathematics at Bellefonte High School for 20 years and coached Bellefonte High School and American Legion baseball for 19 years. In 1981, he took a job at Penns Valley High School, where he headed the mathematics department.

Gray will be accompanied by Robinson at a book signing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Weis Market in Bellefonte. The 155-page book may be purchased there, or online at Amazon.com.