It was once home to Pineville High School’s Minutemen, where NFL player Curt Warner’s star power began to shine under Friday night lights.
While Shuff Field will always hold a memorable spot in the local history, the buildings and structures have been torn down to make way for the new Pineville Elementary School.
“It’s bitter sweet,” said Silas Mullins, who served as head football coach for 15 years. “I hate to see this (football tradition) end, but the kids need a new school.”
Mullins worked with community members to build the field house in 1983, along with other structures, in hopes the field could be used in playoffs.
“It was a community effort,” he said, walking through the ruins of the crumbled field house.
“I spent thousands of dollars to get grass to grow on this field. Now, they are getting ready to build on it, and it finally has grass,” Mullins said with a laugh.
“A lot of the parents helped me,” Mullins recalled. “T.D. Daniels was one of my staunchest supporters. The mines were on strike that year and the men would come and help us every day.
“Lark Morgan laid the block,” he said.
Mullins sought assistance from businesses, from individuals, anyone he thought might be able to get the field up to playoff standards.
“Nobody turned me down,” he said. “Everybody in the community wanted to help.
“U.S. Steel donated the block. There were almost 13,000 blocks in that building,” Mullins said. “I know, I counted them.
“If it hadn’t been for the community, we could never have done it,” Mullins emphasized.
“But we never did play a playoff game on that field; they changed the criteria,” he said.
Mullins’ teams, however, went to the state playoffs several years.
The first game on the new field, the Minutemen beat Iaeger 20-0. Mullins took it as a good omen.
One of Mullins’ fondest memories is that of the “Matewan Massacre,” when undefeated Pineville beat the undefeated Matewan team.
“They had played it up in the paper all week,” Mullins recalled with a laugh.
“I told my team, I’d had a vision and this is what’s going to happen...,” Mullins said. “And it happened just like I said. My team couldn’t believe it.”
Mullins knew who would win the toss, where the passes would land, which way the players would run, and on and on, he recalled.
During the warm-ups, both teams were dressed in white.
Then the teams left the field, the lights were turned off and a hush fell over the crowd. When the lights came up, the Minutemen returned, dressed in black and gold jerseys Mullins had had made ahead of time. Music blared from the speakers as military fireworks were set off in the background.
“The crowd went nuts,” Mullins remembered.
Then, the opposing team captain presented Mullins with a bunch of funeral flowers.
Mullins, however, was undaunted. He knew his team would walk away winners.
“I had told them, ‘Boys, don’t worry and be ready for anything’,” he said. “And they were.”
The field first opened in the fall of 1950, Mullins recalled.
“At one time, that was called Miller’s Swamp,” he said.
The area was filled in when the road was constructed adjacent to the site.
In 1951, the field was named to honor Clarence Shufflebarger and became known as Shuff Field. Shufflebarger was a well-known businessman, who was killed in a car accident.
“He was instrumental in getting the field built,” Mullins said.
Prior to that time, Mullins believes, the ball field was located where the gas company now sits in front of Pineville Middle.
Mullins said the West Virginia University Marching Band played on Shuff Field, the Lions Club conducted their annual car shows there, numerous big name concerts were conducted there for the annual Labor Day celebrations, along with Little League, Midget football, among numerous other community activities.
“It’s served its purpose well,” Mullins emphasized.