Fox News Spotlights Brevard Resident and Hospitality Visionary Jimmy Palermo as Originator of the Sports Bar
Palermo moved to Brevard in 1986, Passed away on Merritt Island in December 2010 at age 90
FAMILY BUSINESS: Mary Palermo (behind the bar, top photo) along with sons Jimmy, left, and Joe serve up some brews for their patrons in 1935. Above left, patrons enjoy a favorite brew and sports event on the Farnsworth television. Above right, Jimmy Palermo tends bar in 1949. America’s Original Sports Bar was founded in 1933 right after the Volstead Act was modified to allow for the legalization of beer and was a gathering place for sports figures and fans.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Vincent “Jimmy” Palermo died December 1, 2010, at age 90 after moving to Brevard County, Florida, with his wife Nadine from St. Louis, Missouri in 1986. SEE OBITUARY HERE
‘St. Louis was a rare two-team baseball town — and Palermo’s sat on the hot corner of the Golden Age of baseball.’
Kerry J. Byrne | Fox News
FOX NEWS – Jimmy Palermo grew up in a bootlegger bar during Prohibition and then stitched up the shattered bodies of American GIs in the Battle of the Bulge as a World War II U.S. Army medic.
He returned home to St. Louis — and hit a grand slam as a visionary in American hospitality.
He turned his dad’s pub into what his family and local sports fans argue is America’s first sports bar: Palermo’s Tavern at 3701 Sullivan Avenue in
the Gateway City.
The family ran the pub from 1933 to 1966.
It was at the forefront of an entirely new concept in American hospitality. Palermo’s Tavern featured local beer, casual food, sports memorabilia on the walls and more sports shown above the bar in the earliest days of the TV era.
“Years before the advent of Buffalo wings, satellite hookups or wide-screen television, Palermo’s neighborhood tavern could take the title as America’s original sports bar,” said Palermo’s son, Tom Palermo.
The younger Palermo, as publisher of
SpaceCoastDaily.com, chronicles life on Central Florida’s Atlantic Coast. He’s also a repository of his family’s fascinating legacy as immigrant American tavern keepers.
Jimmy Palermo (1920-2010) and his tavern were deeply rooted in the fabric of the national pastime. It was located directly across from the late, great Sportsman’s Park, a legendary arena in baseball lore.
The ballpark for many decades was the home of both the former St. Louis Browns of
Major League Baseball’s American League and the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League.
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FIELD OF DREAMS: Jimmy Palermo grew up across the street from Sportsman’s Park (circled above), the host to more Major League baseball games than any ballpark in history. Sportsman’s park opened in 1902 and housed both the Cardinals and Browns for 34 years, 1920 – 1953.
AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SPORTS BAR PROPRIETORS: Paul and Mary Palermo with their sons Jimmy, left, and Joe. Mary and Paul were your typical hardy and hard-working immigrants of the early 20th century. Paul worked in the coal mines of Illinois as a child, and Mary was lucky to make it to the United States from Sicily because her vessel was rocked by a violent Atlantic storm that killed the captain and almost sank the ship. This photo was taken right after World War II.
SPORTS BAR ORIGINATOR Jimmy Palermo (at right, in white shirt) serves patrons from behind the bar at Palermo’s Tavern. The sports-themed pub in St. Louis stakes a strong claim as America’s first-ever sports bar. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
HOT DOG! Rose Palermo (who married into the family) pours soda at the hot dog stand outside Palermo’s Tavern. The pub, across from former St. Louis Major League Baseball stadium Sportsman’s Park, is considered America’s first sports bar. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Paul Palermo, right, and Joe Schmidt man the hot dog stand on a Summer afternoon before a Cardinals game in 1938. Paul and his 11-year-old son, Joe, built the first hot dog stand outside of Sportsman Park in April of 1923. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
THE SHORT SISTERS: Originally from Howe’s Mill, Missouri, Carmen (left) and Nadine enjoy an evening out with their husbands, Yogi Berra (left) and Jimmy Palermo, at the Copacabana in New York City in 1952. In the background between Carmen and Yogi are Roy Cohn, attorney and right-hand man of the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy, and actress Ann Blythe. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
TABLE SHUFFLEBOARD was a popular bar game during the 40s and 50s and also with the patrons of America’s Original Sports Bar. Above, Jimmy Palermo, far left, takes a turn. At far right is Joe Palermo, and to his right is his wife Mary Catherine and Jimmy’s wife, Nadine. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
WHEN IT WAS A GAME: By the time this team photo of the 1931 St. Louis Browns was taken, Jimmy Palermo (pictured above sitting on the ground between Hall of Famer Goose Goslin’s feet) had been with the Browns for five seasons. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
VINCENT “JIMMY” PALERMO, who operated America’s first sports bar in St. Louis, grew up deeply immersed in the national pastime. He was a bat boy for the American League’s St. Louis Browns; he’s pictured here in 1933. (Image for Space Coast Daily)
BROWNS’ BATBOY Jimmy Palermo (far left, front) looks on with the Brownie players as Manager “Sunny Jim” Bottomley receives gifts of appreciation from the fans, including a bird dog and a radio. This photo appeared in the July 26, 1937 edition of the St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat. Bottomley and Jimmy became close life-long friends after first meeting in 1926.
PROFESSIONAL UMPIRE JIMMY PALERMO (back row, far right) with his colleagues in the Wisconsin State League in 1941. His umpiring career was abruptly interrupted by World War II, and obligations to the family business prevented him from resuming his umpiring career on his return from the European theatre in 1946.
FIVE DECADES LATER: The building at 3701 Sullivan Ave. that housed America’s Original Sports Bar from 1933 to 1966 continues to stand today and is, appropriately, still a neighborhood tavern. In the above photo, taken in early 2005, is Jimmy Palermo, then 85 years old, and his son Jim. (Space Coast Daily image)
GREATEST GENERATION: In the above photo, taken in 2005 at home in Cocoa, Jimmy Palermo, then 85 years old, talks about his many life experiences. (Space Coast Daily image)
BELGIUM, JANUARY 1945: Jimmy Palermo grew up in a bootlegger bar during Prohibition and then stitched up the shattered bodies of American GIs in the Battle of the Bulge as a World War II U.S. Army medic. (Space Coast Daily image)
JIMMY PALERMO, a World War II and Korean War veteran who operated America’s first sports bar, died in 2010 at age 90. He’s buried today at Bushnell National Cemetery in Florida. He moved to Brevard County with his wife Nadine from St. Louis, Missouri in 1986. (Space Coast Daily image)