by Jim Riggs
February 17, 1998
Hardly A Sport Was Missed At Hall of Fame Induction Dinner
Just about every sport was covered when the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inducted four new members at the organization’s 17th annual induction dinner Monday night at the Holiday Inn.The inductees and speakers were involved football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, cross country, bowling golf, shooting and officiating. And it was one of the guest speakers, who is the owner of a hefty contract, who summed up the night perfectly.
“Listening to the inductees here this evening shows you what sports is all about,’ said Buffalo Sabres captain Michael Peca. “You don’t have to be a professional athlete to touch people’s hearts and lives. It’s the people that you coach, the people that you play with and the people that you referee. The relationships you come about along the way are the things that stick with you the most. I was just glad I was there this evening to be a part of this great evening and I look forward to shaking your hands.”
One of the steadiest hands Peca could shake belonged to honoree Kay Anderson, who was inducted for his state, national and international honors won in shooting.
Anderson pointed out that in most sports you think of running faster, jumping higher, hitting harder and a lot of physical activity.
“Shooting is the only sport in which you do the opposite,” he said. “You try to remain absolutely motionless. You line up your rifle, sight and target, and you try to not move at all. And while you’re doing this, on demand you slow your heart down so that your pulse beat will not give you any more movement than is necessary.”
The late Kay Linder was the second inductee honored, mainly for her local and state leadership in women’s bowling.
Her grandson, Dan Johnson accepted Linder’s plaque and ring from Hall of Fame president Dr. Charles Sinatra. Johnson said he still recalls walking into his grandmother’s basement and finding the floor covered with papers, the entry forms for another tournament she was involved with.
A couple of the biggest were when Linder helped bring the women’s state tournament here.
‘In those days, a tournament of that magnitude brought hundreds of people to the Jamestown area,” Johnson said. “She will always be remembered as a pioneer in the women’s bowling in Jamestown."
While she was living, Linder was inducted into the state and local bowling hall of fames. Monday night was her third induction and Johnson said, “I know she is celebrating with us tonight.”
Mel Lewellen began coaching in the Bemus Point School System, which later became the Maple Grove School System, in 1951 and when he retired in 1979, he had racked up impressive records and titles in cross country, volleyball, baseball and mainly basketball.
Lewellen admitted he didn’t even know where Chautauqua County was when he came to Bemus Point for an interview. After that interview he was driving to Jamestown and was admiring the view of Chautauqua Lake.
“Wouldn’t it be great if I could catch a job here,” he had thought.
Lewellen also pointed out something mentioned by all the inductees.
“None of us got here by ourselves,” he said and thanked his family, players, media and many others who were a part of his teams’ success.
Inductee Jack Fulford made quite a name for himself playing baseball and has also had success on the golf course, but he is also known for his nearly 40 years of officiating football, basketball and baseball.
“All I’ve done is call fouls on people who never touched anyone, called clipping and holding on people who weren’t even in the game, and I called strikes on people who couldn’t have touched it with a 10-foot pole,” he said. “And most of that is true.”
But seriously, Fulford advised former players no longer participating in their sports to consider officiating as a way to remain involved.
“It’s the next best thing to playing the game,” he said.
Like all the inductees, Fulford sacrificed a lot of family time to pursue his sports interests. He recalled his daughter called once and asked if he had a day free during his busy summer schedule. After flipping through the calendar, he finally asked, “How about August 21?”
His daughter replied, “Mark it down. We’re getting married that day.”
The inductees biographies were once again read by Todd Peterson, but a pinch hitter was called on serve as master of ceremonies. Howard Simon of the Empire Sports Network was scheduled for that role, but was unable to attend because of illness. Filling his spot was board member and inductee Russ Diethrick.
Diethrick made references a couple times to College Stadium and when Jamestown Jammers General Manager Mike Ferguson took the microphone, he reminded Diethrick the stadium was name after him last year.
Former Buffalo Bills tight end Pete Metzelaars, who played with Carolina and Detroit for the past few seasons and now lives in North Carolina said, ”It’s nice to be among Bills fans again. Obviously, my fondest memories are the 10 years I spent in Buffalo.”
Metzelaars, who has announced his retirement, said he had a memorable past two seasons in Detroit because he thinks Lions’ running back Barry Sanders is the greatest player he’s played with.
“How Thurman Thomas started in front of Barry Sanders for two years at Oklahoma State, I’ll never know,” he said.
Like Peca, Metzelaars was also impressed by the induction ceremonies.
“What an honor and a testimony to see the families that you have impacted, the people that you have impacted out here in the audience,” he said. “I hope that someday in my life that I can have people stand up and be supporting me if I ever get an award like this.”
A couple of former Buffalo Sabres, Don Luce, who is now the team’s Director of Player Personnel and Derek Smith answered questions from the more than 300 in attendance. When asked what it was like to center a line with Danny Gare, Smith laughed and said, “I didn’t have to do much shooting.”
Smith was also asked about the salaries of today’s NHL players compared to his era. He explained players begin to get paid on October 5 and he decided to match his salary from the 1970’s to that of Pat LaFontaine, who played for Buffalo last season. Smith wanted to see how far into the season LaFontaine would have passed his salary.
“He passed me at 11 o’clock in the morning on October 5,” Smith said.
Brett Reynolds, Assistant Director of Market Partnerships for the Buffalo Bills, and Buffalo Bisons general manager Mike Buczkowski were also guest speakers.
The Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame presented $500 checks to Jamestown Area Youth Soccer and the Chautauqua Striders track program.
Banquet chairman Chip Johnson announced the organization was again honoring area athletes who excelled at the state or national level.
Ike Morrison of Randolph and Maple Grove’s Erik Kraft and Greg Powell were honored for being named First Team, All-State in football. The Pine Valley girls basketball team was honored for winning the Class D state title and in a state title overlooked in last year’s induction dinner, the Chautauqua Central School 1,600-meter relay team was honored for finishing first at the state boys track meet in 1966.
` On the college level, Sherman Central School graduate Nolan Swanson was honored for being a cross country All-American at Wake Forest University and Southwestern Central School graduate Tom Massey was honored for his All-American status in football at Brockport State.
Also honored were the Jamestown Bambino League 11-12 All-Stars who won a state title.
The final honor of the night went to WJTN Sports Director Pete Hubbell for his 30 year of broadcasting area sports and he arrived after the program began because of that. Hubbell mentioned he will be going in semi-retirement at the station soon, but not from play-by-play.
“I won’t give that up,” he said.
The invocation and benediction were given by Rev. David Palmer, pastor of Lakewood United Methodist Church, and Gary Kindberg sang the national anthem.
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.