Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

MICKEY FURFARI

June 26, 2013

Column: Clarke in fifth hall of fame

MORGANTOWN — Harry “Flash” Clarke has been deceased since 2005, but he was taken into a fifth Hall of Fame last weekend in nearby Washington, Pa.

Ed Pastilong, well-known retired West Virginia University athletic director, presented the former halfback for induction into the Fayette County (Pa.) Sports Hall of Fame.

Clarke, who was born Dec. 1, 1916 in Cumberland, Md., had grown up in Uniontown, graduated from Uniontown High School, and then earned a football scholarship to WVU.

After playing a year on the freshman team, the speedy, shifty, hard-hitting running back starred on the varsity team in 1937-38-39. He was a team captain as a senior.

The late Dr. Marshall “Little Sleepy” Glenn was the head coach all three of those seasons. His 1939 team posted an 8-1-1 record, including a 7-6 upset win against Texas Tech in the Jan. 1 Sun Bowl game.

Clarke, who died on Dec. 30, 2005, at age 89, is a member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the WVU Hall of Fame, the Maryland Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in addition to this one.

In his presentation of Clarke, Pastilong said:

“The Clarke family is honored with the induction of Harry into the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame. We would like to thank the Board of Directors, the selection committee and everyone that made this possible.

“He would be so proud, but not as proud as we are of him. Harry was a real people’s person…To be honored by his peers would mean the world to him.”

Clarke, who lettered in baseball and track as well as football in high school, rushed for 921 yards as a Mountaineer in his junior year. It was a school record that would stand for several years.

In the bowl victory as a sophomore, he had a 92-yard scoring run called back and wiped out by an infraction on the play.

In a game against Xavier in 1937, the 6-foot-0, 180-pound junior carried the ball 28 times for 153 yards. But he had 132 yards rushing against Texas Tech in the bowl triumph.

After graduating in 1940, Clarke was selected in the 11th round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He couldn’t have been luckier, the long wait for his name to be called.

Eventually the brilliant athlete dazzled the Bears’ coaches with a two-touchdown performance and the starting job was his. Rushing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, he was the only player to score twice in the 73-0 win against the Washington Redskins in the NFL Championship Game – the most lop-sided in league history.

Clarke helped the Bears to two more titles before joining the U.S. war effort in 1944.

For his excellent efforts, he was named to the All-Pro team as a rusher, receiver and kick returner by both wire services.

After the war ended in 1945, Clarke returned to the West Coast, where he moonlighted as a player/coach in the Pacific Coast Football League before being discharged from the Navy.

Harry and wife Lillian returned to Morgantown in 1948 after he retired from pro football. He went into the hydraulic business. He retired from that in 1978.

Clarke is on the WVU all-time team for the period 1929-1940.

Scott Clarke, wife Vickie and daughter Laura, who still live in Morgantown, attended the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies along with some friends.

Daughter Susan Clarke Casto is deceased. She had two children, Craig and Amy.

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MICKEY FURFARI