The Post-Journal

Plenty of Baseball Talk at Hall of Fame Induction

It felt like baseball weather outside and those baseball conditions continued inside at the Jamestown Holiday Inn Monday night, site of the seventh annual Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner.The event’s largest turnout (more than 400) honored four new inductees: Harry Brosius, Marion Rizzo, Al Stuhlmiller and the late John Newman.

All four were involved in baseball and a majority of the guest speakers were also from the diamond sport.

Newman’s Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame plaque and ring were accepted by his son, Jeff, who said, “This is something I have looked forward to for seven years (since the induction dinner was established). I don’t know what dad would say, but I say thank you

Newman, known as “Big Jawn,” was the slugging star of the Jamestown Falcons when he led the New York – Pennsylvania League in batting (.358) and home runs (29) in 1941 and won the titles again in 1942 with a .353 average and 27 home runs.

Because of Newman’s batting and the Falcon’s success, the team attracted 122,801 fans in 1941 and 143,016 in 1942.

Brosius was the next inductee introduced by Jim Roselle and the former Sherman Central School coach and athletic director said, “I am a humble man from a small town. I never thought this would happen. My flight up from Florida (where he now lives) was well worth it.”

His football teams had six undefeated seasons and won seven league titles. Brosius was the first football coach in Chautauqua County to obtain 100 victories and he retired with a 107-67-5 record.

Brosius also coached baseball and played for Cortland State where he pitched a no-hitter. He also pitched for Oswego, a farm team of the Cleveland Indians.

Rizzo, a former star athlete at Falconer Central School, gave credit to Cliff Sharp for arranging a two-week “do-or-die” tryout at King College in Bristol, Tenn. for leading to his success. After winning 15 of a possible 16 varsity letters at Falconer, Rizzo survived the tryout and earned a football scholarship at King College and also played on the basketball team.

Rizzo remained in Tennessee for a while to play for the Bristol Twins, a farm team of the New York Giants. In 1944 he earned a tryout with the Giants at the Polo Grounds, but was unable to attend because he was on active duty in the Navy.

Rizzo was pleased to be inducted because, “It insures that something of what I did with my life will be remembered at the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.”

Stuhlmiller said his induction was a double gift because he was informed of the honor just before Christmas and today is his birthday.

“What more could you ask for?” said the winningest high school baseball coach in Chautauqua County. “You don’t realize, until you get up here in front of 400 people, what this means.”

From 1955 to 1983 Stuhlmiller coached the Dunkirk High School baseball team and compiled a 360-144 record and won 15 Division 1 titles, 10 Section VI titles and two super-sectional titles.

The main speaker was Montreal Expos relief pitcher Tim Burke who finished as the top reliever in the major leagues last season. Burke finished the season with a 7-0 record, 18 saves and a 1.19 ERA. Sports Illustrated listed him as the most underpaid player in the major leagues by an amount of $1.5 million.

Burke told of some problems he had with priorities early in his career and he has learned that there is more to life than just baseball.

“Sports are wonderful, but I had to change my priorities,” he said. “Baseball was a job and there was more to life. All I want to do is go out there and do the best I can every day. That applies to everything, not just sports.”

Jamestown native Dan Lunetta, the Montreal Expos Director of Team Travel, recalled his climb in baseball to his current position in the major leagues.

He began as the groundskeeper at College Stadium and eventually became the general manager of the Jamestown Expos before moving on to a front office job with the Buffalo Bisons and then to his current position with Montreal.

Lunetta said this past season for the Expos was inspirational because the team was picked by many experts to finish last in the National league East Division. And those predictions looked good when Montreal opened the season with five straight losses, but because of outstanding performances by Tim Raines, Tim Wallach, Dennis Martinez, Andres Galarraga and Burke, Montreal finished four games out of first place.

“They showed how an athlete can respond to constantly being called a loser,” he said.

The baseball theme continued with comments from Dan Duquette, the Montreal Expos Director of Minor League Operations and Mike Billoni, vice-president and general manger of the Buffalo Bisons.

Buffalo Sabres Public Relations Director John Gurtler moved things from the diamond to the ice and told many amusing stories about travels with the hockey team. But on a serious note, Gurtler pointed out that the Sabres have become the hottest team in the National Hockey League after compiling a 10-4-2 record in January. The team appears headed to post-season play and after finishing last in the NHL last season, he thinks the Sabres might be taken lightly if they make the playoffs this season.

“We’re the team that could pull the upset in the playoffs,” he said.

Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Chuck Ludwig and Vice-President Denny Lundberg presented checks for $600 to the Chautauqua County Special Olympics and the Jamestown Community College Athletic Fund. Frank Hyer, the Chautauqua County Special Olympics Coordinator and Bruce Turner, JCC Director of Athletics, accepted the checks.

Tom Prohaska, was the induction dinner chairman and his wife, Donna, sang America the Beautiful accompanied on the piano by Gladys Peterson. Rev. Charles Gustafson of Bethel Lutheran Church gave the invocation and benediction. Russ Diethrick, Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame vice-president, was the emcee. Jamestown Mayor Steven B. Carlson opened the program with a welcoming address.

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.