BY JEFF FALK
Edmund Burke once said: ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it’. Lebanon’s Harry Speece might take excpetion to Burke.
While the 75-year-old Speece certainly realizes the value of learning from the past, he really has no problems with Lebanon County repeating its storied sports history. In fact, Speece knows our past is what makes us who we are.
Officially, Speece holds down the position of athletic clerk/historian/archivist in the Lebanon Valley College sports program. But even before his hiring in 2005, Speece was a local sports enthusiast and quite possibly the most knowledgeable Lebanon County sports historian.
“I love this,” said Speece. “I love stats. I love Lebanon Valley and it’s people. It’s a great atmosphere.
“It’s both, a love of local sports and for Lebanon Valley,” Speece added. “I go to a lot of high school stuff too. But if Lebanon Valley is playing, I’m there first.”
Besides being a fixture at local sporting events, over the years Speece has painstakingly poured through microfilm and old newspapers to accurately document past results and records in numerous local sports. In the mid-1990s, Speece approached then Flying Dutchmen athletic director Lou Sorrentino about the holes in LVC’s recorded sports history.
“They had next to nothing,” Speece said. “Coaches walked away with stuff. They even lost some things in a flood.
“I’ve been seeing games since the mid (19)40s, so I saw just about everybody play,” added Speece. “They didn’t even have basketball scores from the (19)80s. I started going to the (Lebanon) Daily News and the library at LVC and going through microfilm.”
Following his formal retirement from the work force, Speece began doing extensive research, sometimes for up to eight hours a day. Ultimately Speece’s work led to his current position at Lebanon Valley.
“(Then athletic director Tierney) Kathy offered me a job and I think she created it for me,” said Speece. “That way I’d be up there all the time. I’m at a point where I’m happy with where we’re at (with the athletic records).”
Through his exhaustive efforts, the Flying Dutchmen now have complete records in football, a program that dates back to 1893, and baseball.
” I want to have all the results of sporting events at LVC since its inception,” said Speece. “And I don’t know if that’s ever possible. If I ever feel it’s complete enough, maybe I’ll put it in book form.”
Trying to figure out exactly how much time he has spent researching local sports records could give Speece a headache.
“Oh, my gosh,” said Speece. “I have spent literally thousands of hours looking at microfilm. I don’t know how to estimate that.”
Editor’s note: This piece on Harry Speece originally aired on Lebanon Sports Buzz on June 11, 2011. It was reprinted with permission.