HERSHEY, Pa. — From 1951 to 1967, with the exception of 1964, the Philadelphia Eagles called Hershey their summer oasis.
Amy Zeigler, senior director of the Hershey Story Museum, said that for the fans and children in Chocolate Town, the access to the players was a dream come true.
"Kids would wait outside for them and they would carry their helmets," said Zeigler. "They would walk from the community building to Hersheypark stadium, which I could never imagine happening today.”
For nearly sixteen years, Zeigler said the team connected with the people of Hershey. Especially downtown, where the players lived out the word "community", in the community building
"They had rooms for them to stay in, they also had a gymnasium where they could work out, and they also had a game room and paddleball," said Zeigler. "There were all these stories of kids going there and playing games with them in the evening."
One of those kids was Ernie Accorsi, who grew up to be the general manager of the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts. He said the football idols he saw on his television, were more larger than life in-person.
“They were huge, and you were just a kid," said Accorsi. "They were so fit, so muscular, it was awesome."
While the players were god-like up-close, Accorsi said they never hesitated to pay attention to the neighborhood youngsters.
"I don't ever remember any kid being blown off," said Accorsi. "They would sign autographs even on the way to practice. You had a personal touch with them, and you had your favorites."
Accorsi said he even stepped on the field to help and collect balls for the team. Although, he didn't run it by Jim Trimble, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1952 to 1955, before volunteering as ball boy.
“I'm out there helping them, and here comes Trimble," said Accorsi with a ornery smile. "He gives me a playful boot in the rear end, so I start to run and he's chasing me down the field."
That didn't keep Accorsi away from seeing countless exhibition games toward the end of each summer at Hersheypark stadium. The town witnessed their familiar Eagles face-off against the Baltimore Colts, and even the New York Giants.
The teams Accorsi would eventually take over as general manager.
In 1968, the Eagles moved their training camp to Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, before having stints at Widener University, West Chester University, Lehigh University, and the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, where they've held their camp since 2013.