Alfred Earle ‘‘Greasy’’ Neale (November 5, 1891-November 2, 1973) was born in Parkersburg. He was one of the state’s greatest all-around athletes. In high school he was a star. He attended West Virginia Wesleyan College and excelled in football, basketball, and baseball. During the 1912–13 basketball season, Neale scored 139 field goals, an amazing number at that time. After graduation in 1915, he was named coach of the Wesleyan football team but continued to play for the team, a common practice in that era.
Neale was an early professional football star, playing with the Canton (Ohio) Bulldogs, 1915–17, on a team that included the great Jim Thorpe. In his playing days he stood six feet tall, weighed 170 pounds, and played offensive end and halfback as well as defensive end and back.
Neale was also an outstanding baseball player, playing for the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies from 1916 through 1924. He played 768 major league games as an outfielder with a .259 batting average. In the infamous World Series of 1919, he hit .357 for the Reds, in a series fixed by members of the opposing Chicago White Sox.
In addition to West Virginia Wesleyan, Neale coached at Marietta College, Washington & Jefferson University, Yale, and the University of Virginia. He also coached a minor league baseball team in Clarksburg as well as the Ironton (Ohio) Tanks, an independent football team. His greatest fame as a coach came from 1941 to 1950, when he coached the Philadelphia Eagles to two world championships in the National Football League.
Neale is credited with developing the ‘‘naked reverse,’’ the five-man defensive line, and man-to-man pass defense. He was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1969. He died in Lake Worth, Florida.
This Article was written by Robert L. Frey
Last Revised on October 21, 2010