by Jim Riggs
February 17, 1999
Nostalgia, Laughs, Tears At Hall of Fame Induction Dinner
It was also a packed house as Banquet Chairman Chip Johnson had the delightful problem of asking for more tables to be set up to accommodate the overflow crowd.
Inductee Les Beck, who was a football and track standout at Jamestown High School in the 1930’s, humbly accepted his Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame plaque and ring from President Dr. Charles Sinatra, DDS. He said thank you and declined to say more, even when the full house chanted, “Speech, speech!”
“That might be the shortest acceptance speech we’ve ever had,” quipped Todd Peterson, who handled the introductions of the inductees.
Inductee Donn Johnston, who led Jamestown High School to a Section 6 Class AAA title in 1969 and went on to play at North Carolina where he was a member of the 1971 NIT champions and the 1973 NCAA Final Four third-place team, said, “My goal was always centered around team goals; to win the Section 6 Championship.”
When he went on to North Carolina there were plenty of memories, such as spending a Christmas in Madrid, Spain, and another in Hawaii.
“That’s a lot of things to happen to this small town boy from Jamestown, New York,” Johnston said.
And after all that national exposure, his high school days are what he cherishes and mainly his teammates.
“They are the people I remember most about Jamestown High School,” he said.
Inductee Bob Muscato, who coached Cardinal Mindszenty High School in Dunkirk to numerous football and boys basketball championships, said, “I’m proud to accept this honor this evening and I’ll cherish it forever.”
He dedicated the honor to his mother.
“She was always praying for me,” he said. “Praying for me to win, but also praying for me to survive every game I coached.”
Though he had many undefeated seasons coaching at Cardinal Mindszenty, he also had winless seasons.
“I knew how to handle the wins and I didn’t let the losses bother me,” he said.
“It’s with heartfelt gratitude that we accept this award for Ted.” Janet Olsen said about the induction of her late husband Ted. “Thank you for his selection; we’ll treasure it forever.”
Olsen was a member of the undefeated 1949 football team at JHS, where he also was a member of the basketball, baseball and track teams. He also played football at Alfred University and then continued to play many sports until suffering a fatal heart attack during a softball game in 1974.
As a thank you to the Hall of Fame, son Chris Olsen announced that his family is constructing a website for the organization so people all over the world can obtain information about the Hall of Fame and its inductees.
Chris also mentioned that when a deceased is honored, there is usually a moment of silence.
“Frankly, I can think of few things my father would like less than a moment of silence,” he said with a smile.
That was followed by a cheer from the audience for one of the Hall of Fame’s newest inductees.
The no-shows were Michael Peca and Matthew Barnaby of the Buffalo Sabres, who were lined up as guest speakers weeks ago. However, suddenly Tuesday afternoon they announced they would not be attending. Taking their place from the Sabres was Dixon Ward, who altered family plans to attend.
“As you know, Michael and Matthew were supposed to be here,” he said. “We decided you deserved better.”
He was impressed by the biographies and acceptance speeches of the inductees.
“You’ve got a real strong sense of family,” Ward said. “Halfway through the speeches I wanted to go out and call my dad.”
Ward mentioned how everyone had been asking for autographs from he and Darryl Talley, the former Buffalo Bills and Atlanta Falcons linebacker who was the other guest speaker. But Ward turned his thoughts to the inductees.
“Those are the ones who you should be getting autographs from,” he said.
Talley echoed those thoughts about being a pro athlete and said to all the young people in attendance. “The only people that are important are your parents.”
The master of ceremonies was Howard Simon of the Empire Sports Network and Rev. Daniel Stevens, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, provided the invocation and benediction. The national anthem was sung by the barbershop quartet of Harry Glatz, Norm Herby, Hans Steen and Hugh Oglevee.
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.