by Jim Riggs
January 15, 1985
Four New Sports Hall of Fame Inductees Honored
A volunteer, an all-around athlete, a swimmer and a major league baseball player were inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame at the organization’s fourth annual induction dinner Monday night at the Holiday Inn.
The late Dr. Harold Blaisdell, who volunteered his services to the Jamestown High School football team from the late 1940s to the 1960s, was the first 1985 inductee honored. A plaque and ring were presented by Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Russ Diethrick to Dr. Blaisdell’s son, Dr. William Blaisdell.
Lou DeSantis made the trip from Florida to accept his honors. DeSantis was an all-sport star at Falconer and Jamestown High Schools and then went on to star in semi-pro football in the area before becoming a sports officer in the U.S. Army. There he continued to star in athletics and also was an organizer of sports programs in Europe and Asia.
“To be remembered many years later is an honor and a thrill,” DeSantis said.
Alyce LeVoie, the widow of Tony LeVoie, accepted her late husband’s plaque and ring for his many years of dedication to the swimming program at the Jamestown Boys’ Club.
Former major leaguer Irv Noren was the last inductee. Noren is living in California and is getting ready to begin scouting for a major league team and could not attend. Accepting for Noren was his first cousin, Carol Johnson.
Noren played with the Washington Senators, New York Yankees, Kansas City Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. He played in three World Series with the Yankees and later coached with the Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs.
The accomplishments of the inductees were read by Jim Roselle of WJTN.
There are now 25 Hall of Fame Inductees. The first ten in 1982 were Walt Brown, Russ Diethrick, Kay Gould, Marty Haines, Mark Hammond, Jim McCusker, Lyle Parkhurst, Brad Rendell, Leo Squinn and Nelson Turnell. In 1983, Hugh Bedient, Jimmy Clark, Frank Hyde, Howard Ehmke, Bob Hanson, Joe Nagle, and Don Reinhoudt were inducted and in 1984 it was Swat Erickson, George Carter, Sheridan Hardenburg, and Murray Shelton. Tom Eakin was an honorary inductee in 1983.
WJTN sports director Pete Hubbell was the emcee and Jamestown Mayor Steven B. Carlson welcomed the crowd of over 250. Chautauqua County Executive John Glenzer also welcomed all in attendance.
The first speaker of the evening was Penn State linebacker Shane Conlan. The Frewsburg Central School graduate said the team is still trying to figure out what happened at the end of the season when the Nittany Lions lost their last two games to finish 6-5.
The next speaker was one of Conlan’s opponents next season. Boston College fullback Steve Strachan was the Most Valuable Player in the Cotton Bowl after gaining 91 yards on 23 carries and scoring a touchdown.
Strachan said that when he decided to go to Boston College the team had been mediocre, but he was attracted because of the schedule. The Eagles were 5-6 his freshman year, but then things began to turn around because of the confidence instilled by Coach Jack Bicknell and quarterback Doug Flutie. “He made the difference,” Strachan said of Flutie.
Strachan added that with the big money being offered to Flutie by the United States Football League, he doubts Flutie will play in the National Football League. “I think there’s a good chance Doug will go to the USFL,” he predicted.
The new Jamestown Expos General Manager, Frank Wren, was the next speaker and said he was glad to be back in Jamestown. He started his professional baseball career here with the Expos and then returned as a coach. He will be heading to Montreal’s spring training next month and then will be back in Jamestown in April to begin his new duties as general manager.
The next speaker appeared in uniform. Kevin Koch, better known as the Pittsburgh Pirate Parrot joked, “This is one of the biggest crowds I’ve been in front of for a while,” referring to the Pirates’ attendance problems this past season. He said at one point during the season, he went into the clubhouse and told the players, “Hey, you guys are getting more laughs than I am.”
After former St. Bonaventure basketball player Matt Gantt spoke, former American League Rookie of the Year, Joe Charboneau, said he probably performed in front of fewer fans because he played in Cleveland. Charboneau is now living in Lockport and is attempting a comeback with Pittsburgh. He will be playing with the Pirates’ Class AAA team in Hawaii this season.
The baseball theme continued with Bob Rich, owner of the Buffalo Bisons. Hubbell mentioned he had been trying to persuade Rich to buy the Buffalo Bills.
Rich’s goal is to bring major league baseball to Buffalo and right now he is trying to show that the city can support the sport with the Bisons playing in the Class AAA American Association this season.
Rich mentioned that operating a minor league team is not easy. He said that in order to make a small fortune you have to start with a larger fortune.
Rich stressed that one goal for all minor league sports teams. “We have an obligation to keep the ticket prices down,” he said.
Things went from baseball to hockey when The Voice of the Buffalo Sabres, Ted Darling, took the podium. Darling told how he landed the broadcasting job with the sabres when they joined the National Hockey League during expansion in 1970. He made a fake audition tape with boxing crowd noise and had the Sabres win 1-0.
His most unusual broadcast came during the Blizzard of ’77 when the Sabres played a game in Montreal. Darling could not get to Montreal so he did his radio broadcast from his living room by watching the game on television.
He had memories of that blizzard when he went outside to begin his journey back home to the Buffalo area. It was quite a change to the warm feeling everyone had experienced for the previous three hours.
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.