Saving the Day: Ed Bartholomew’s Game

July 24, 2020

BY MAURY THOMPSON

Campaign Handout from Ed Bartholomew's run for mayor (The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library)Campaign Handout from Ed Bartholomew's run for mayor (The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library)

The disappointment would have been bitter and long lasting. But Glens Falls achieved a sweet and surprising victory that mild fall afternoon in 1966, at the 33rd annual city series football game pitting neighbors and cross-city rivals Glens Falls High School against St. Mary’s Academy at historic East Field.

Glens Falls had already earned the Northern Conference league championship and was determined to avoid a humiliating season-end, never-live-it-down loss to St. Mary’s. Four minutes to go. Fourth down and goal. Glens Falls sends its kicker Nick Barber to the backfield to attempt his second field goal of the day. But the snap was bad. Barber had to scramble to spot a receiver.

The Glens Falls Post-Star picks it up from there:

“Barber alertly picked up the pigskin, raced to his right and spotted co-captain Ed Bartholomew, who had slithered behind the SMA defenders in the end zone. Bartholomew jumped high in the air to pluck the ball out of the air over the out-stretched arms of (St. Mary’s) Pat Kenneally.”

Glens Falls’ 7-0 triumph was “one of the most exciting and best-played games in the 33-year history of the city series,” The Post-Star declared.

The 180-pound senior fullback Ed Bartholomew had saved the day, the first of many times for his hometown. When he died Tuesday, Ed Bartholomew was properly honored for his many accomplishments as Mayor of Glens Falls (elected at 28, the youngest mayor in the state) and president of the Economic Development Corporation of Warren County.

But there were clues to Ed’s later success in his early life.  

A week before his City Series heroics, he had rushed for 160 yards and one touchdown as Glens Falls defeated Whitehall 34-0 to win the Northern Conference Championship, the first for Glens Falls since 1958.

He also excelled at track. On May 20, 1967, he was part of a foursome that set a Northern Conference Track and Field Championship record in the 880-yard relay. The new record of 1:34.4 was 0.05 of a second faster than the record Hudson Falls set in 1962.

As a teen, Ed was active at Christ Church Methodist in Glens Falls and was continuously active in the congregation until his death. He was elected president of the Junior High Fellowship in 1963. Just after high school graduation, he became an usher, continuing a tradition of his father, Edward Bartholomew Sr.

In April 1967, while still in high school, he presented to the Christ Church Adult Fellowship a lecture titled “Domino at the 30th Parallel,” about conditions in South Africa.

In the Fall of 1967, Ed enrolled at Adirondack Community College, now SUNY Adirondack, in Queensbury, where he played softball for the Mountaineers, pretty much wrapping up his athletic run, other than a charity game when he was mayor. Bartholomew transferred from ACC to Union College in Schenectady, where he graduated in 1971. He went on to Albany Law School, graduating in 1974.

Ed loved sports and media people. He was among a handful of politicians “scheduled for action” along with members of the press corps, in a celebrity softball game at 12:30 p.m. July 13, 1980, to benefit the Tri-County Heart Fund. The game was held at the same East Field of his high school glory days which as mayor he had transformed from mud bowl to modern baseball stadium. The charity game preceded a Double A minor league baseball game between the Glens Falls White Sox, the team he brought to town, and the Buffalo Bisons, farm club for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ed’s interests always toggled between sports, the media and politics.

During college he hosted the “Ed Bartholomew Show,” an afternoon radio news reporting and commentary program on WBZA, an AM station in Glens Falls.

In March 1982, while still serving as mayor, Bartholomew took over hosting “Sports Call,” a weekly sports talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Mondays on WWSC in Glens Falls, where on occasion, even as mayor, he filled in for absent DJs, spinning the stacks of wax late at night just for fun.

In the mid-’90s, after his term as mayor, he owned and was an on-air personality for a time at WZZM-FM, a country music station in Corinth. He hosted “Beyond the Headlines” on local television station TV8.

During law school, he was recognized as up-and-coming young Republican.

Ed was among several prominent local Republicans that The Post-Star contacted to comment for an Oct. 13, 1973, report about the appointment of Gerald Ford as vice president.

“I think with the selection of Gerald Ford it was an excellent choice. He has demonstrated that he can work with Republicans and Democrats,” said Bartholomew, who was director of youth activities for the Warren County Republican Committee at the time. “He should do an excellent job without having an eye on the presidency.”

In 1976, he was co-coordinator of the “Draft Solomon Movement,” an attempt to persuade state Assemblyman and former Queensbury Supervisor Gerald Solomon, one-time Democrat turned Republican, to run for Congress.

Solomon decided not to run for Congress that year against incumbent Rep. Edward “Ned” Pattison but did run in 1978 and won. Solomon went on to serve 20 years in the House of Representatives.

Ed had previously been an aide to Rep. Carleton King, R-Saratoga Springs, the seven-term incumbent whom Pattison defeated in 1974.

After serving two very consequential terms as mayor, Ed became an advisor to the state Senate majority for many years where he specialized in labor issues.

As to that 1966 touchdown, St. Mary’s fans must not have held a grudge, at least not forever.

In March 2019, St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School, the successor of St. Mary’s Academy, honored Bartholomew with its Community Spirit Award. 

Information for this column was compiled from the archives of The Post-Star and the Glens Falls Times.

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