The Sad Story of Robert Lee Ritz
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.
–Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio by James Wright
One of the most tragic stories in Wheeling sports history is the 1916 murder of Robert Lee Ritz of Wheeling.
In an interview with a relative, 98-year-old Roberta Lee Mitchell of Colerain (who was named for her cousin Robert), a photograph of this outstanding and popular football player was donated to the Ohio County Public Library Archives.
Known as “Lee,” Robert Lee Ritz was the only child of Lee and Anna Ritz. His father died at an early age and his mother, a Stobbs, later married Theo Camp and lived at 1014 Vine Street in East Wheeling.
Lee was captain of the football team at Wheeling High School, and according to the Wheeling Intelligencer, he was one of the best athletes in West Virginia. Selected to the all-state high school football team, he planned to attend Cornell University. Read More