As Russ Diethrick, Jamestown's "Mr. Baseball," once said, "Without Billy Webb, I doubt we would have had professional minor-league baseball in Jamestown."
Even though Billy Webb passed away back in 1935 at the young age of 47, his legacy continues to live on. Webb was born in 1888 in Homestead, Pa., and began playing baseball in various amateur and semi-professional teams in Ambler, Pa., Atlantic City, N.J. and Bridgeton Park, Pa. in 1908-09.
For the next three years, he played for the semi-pro team in the Jamestown/Celoron area as a third baseman and by 1914, was managing a team in Warren, Pa. in the Interstate professional league, composed of players from that league along with players from the Canadian, International and State leagues, then moved on to manage the Jamestown team in the same league in 1915. Also in 1915, Webb formed an independent semi-pro team known as "Billy Webb's Spiders."
The Spiders were a fixture at Celoron Park and were the area's premier semi-pro team in the area until Webb's death in 1935. The team took on numerous barnstorming teams over that span of time, including the Babe Ruth All-Stars, the Boston Braves, the Homestead Grays, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the Cuban All-Stars, the Pittsburgh Colored All-Stars and the House of David.
In 1930, Webb was a key organizer of the first illuminated night baseball game in Western New York and he continued to work tirelessly for the game he loved and because of his efforts, Jamestown was considered to be a prime choice for a team when the New York-Penn League was organized in 1939.
But baseball wasn't the only sport Webb was involved in. He loved bowling and worked at the Floss Palace Bowling Alley on Cherry Street soon after he came to Jamestown and constructed an indoor batting cage there. He also was the assistant manager of the Freebrook Bowling Lanes from 1920 to 1932 and was the manager of the former Spring Street Alleys from 1933 until his death. He was also one of the founders of the Jamestown Bowling Association.
City Judge Allen E. Barger paid tribute to Webb following his death in 1935. "He was always devoted to cause of promoting the national pastime in Jamestown and throughout his life here, was a splendid influence for good."
Billy Webb was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.