by Jim Riggs
February 17, 2004
There were some light moments among the seriousness at the 23rd annual Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner as four new members were honored. But most of those in attendance at the packed Holiday Inn left with tears in their eyes as the night was wrapped up with the joke-telling of former National Hockey League player Dennis Hull, who proved himself to be the Bob Uecker of hockey.
Hull gave an upbeat ending to the induction dinner that brought the hall’s population to 102.
The first inductee to have her biography read by Todd Peterson was Sue Golen Bastedo, who was one of the top bowlers in the area and was also on the women’s pro tour from 1971-74. It was also Bastedo’s second induction because she became a member of the Jamestown Bowling Council Hall of Fame in 1993.
Bastedo said it was when she learned to hook the ball that her average climbed into the 190’s and as they say, the rest is history.
She gave a lot of credit to Jim Barone, John Damond, Bucky Cappalino and Len Johnson for their support.
“They were the gurus of bowling,” she said.
About her short stint in pro bowling, Bastedo said, “I didn’t stay too long on the tour because I missed my children and I wasn’t that dedicated.”
After cutting back on bowling, Golen turned to golf and was successful again by winning the women’s club championship at Conewango Valley Country Club three times and she also was the runner-up three times.
“I thought I would do it just for fun, but my competitiveness kicked in,” Bastedo said.
Jim Beichner was inducted for his success in wrestling. He was a three-time Section 6 wrestling champion at Cassadaga Valley Central School, a two time NCAA Division I All-American at Clarion University and is currently in his eighth season as head wrestling coach at the University of Buffalo.
He looked around the crowded room and said,
“Whatever they paid, I don’t think it was worth that much to see me.”
Most of his large family was in attendance and Beichner singled out his oldest brother, John.
“He started the family tradition of wrestling,” Beichner said. “John was the first one to wrestle. When he first started no one really knew that he was out there wrestling and competing.”
Beichner was also touched that his former high school coach, Cliff Blom, came from Florida to attend his induction.
Dave Graf was an All-Western New York football player at Dunkirk High School. He went on to play at Penn State and for the Cleveland Browns from 1975 to 1979 and with the Washington Redskins in 1981.
Graf, now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was happy to be in Jamestown for his induction Monday night.
“It just seems to be fitting to be back in Jamestown, New York,” he said.
That’s because it was in Jamestown on Sept. 21, 1968, where he played his first varsity game for Dunkirk as a sophomore. The Marauders lost 18-13, but it was an important moment in Graf’s football career.
“The tone was set by the opener,” he said. “If you can play Jamestown tough, you can play anyone tough. That was my first wakeup call to make me realize what it would take to play at that level and play well."
The he recalled a similar situation in his first varsity game as a sophomore for Penn State. It was a loss at Tennessee, but again a wakeup call, that led to 10 straight wins before a loss in a bowl game.
Graf noted his parents attended every high school and college game he played – a total of 60 games. They also attended as many games as possible when he was a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Graf noted the toughness of pro football and mention he had been knocked out four times. That led to Cleveland teammate Bob Babich calling him “Kid Candle” - one blow and you’re out.
David Shaw was inducted for his success in sled-dog racing which he took up in the mid-1970’s and became one of the most successful in the area. He won many titles and was named Canadian-American Sledders’ Musher of the Year numerous times.
However, Shaw has also been involved in other activities such as auto racing, photography, model railroading and scuba diving. But of all his interests, Shaw said, “Nothing can compare to running sled dogs.”
He added, “There is no “I” in team, but in my case it’s not about me, but we. Today’s athletes could learn a lot from sled dogs.”
He noted that celebration for sled dogs is when they race and when the run is over, the fun is over.
Shaw also recalled the time he was given five rejected dogs from five different racers. He worked with them and said, “That team of throwaways never lost a race.”
All four inductees were presented with plaques and rings by Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Ron Melquist.
Then came the levity of Hull, who played a serious game of hockey that is often forgotten because he played in the shadow of his famous brother, Bobby. However, in 13 seasons with Chicago and one with Detroit, Hull had 303 goals and 35 assists in the playoffs. He was also a six time all-star and in 1970-71 he led the Stanley Cup Playoffs in scoring.
Hull was also a member of Team Canada in 1972 in the Summit Series against the Soviet Union and had two goals and two assists in four games.
He was quick to note he is also the uncle of Brett Hull of the Detroit Red Wings.
“I’m the third best of the group and I would have been the fourth best, but they wouldn’t let my sister, Maxine play,” Hull said.
And that was the start of 20 minutes of laughter as Hull threw out one joke after another.
At one point one of his stories was interrupted when Shaw sneezed and Hull asked, “Are you allergic to dogs?”
Hull had fun comparing his salary in the 1970’s to his nephew now earning $5 million a year.
“In 1971 I signed a contract for $10 million a year with the Chicago Blackhawks,” he said. “I just couldn’t get them to sign it!”
And he was just beginning to roll.
Earlier the Hall of Fame also honored athletes from Chautauqua County for their accomplishments over the past year. They were presented with plaques by induction dinner chairman Chip Johnson.
In high school football, Forestville’s Ryan Katta and Panama’s Jeff Rosage were honored for making the Class D All-State First Team.
The Pine Valley girls’ basketball team was cited for winning the state Class D championship. Also, Coach Tim Nobles was name the state small schools Coach of the Year and Kourtney Troutman was name to the state Class D All-State First Team.
Will Sidey of Fredonia was honored for winning a state wresting title at 171 pounds and Anneli Johnson of the Frewsburg girls swim team was cited for earning All-American status.
The Southwestern-Maple Grove hockey team was honored for winning the state small schools high school club hockey state championship.
In rifle, Nickolas Patch and Eric Pearson were the national junior high-power team champions.
Also, members of the YMCA Gymdawgs girls’ gymnastics team were honored. They were: Jenn Austin, Level 8, junior all-around state champion; Erin Hannon, Level 9, junior all-around state champion; Nikole Lindquist, Level 5, children’s all-around state champion; and Allison Smith, Level 5, senior all-around state champion.
Two more athletes were honored for their talents in the classroom. Rob Prinzi and John LaMancuso of Jamestown High School were recognized for being named to the Scholar All-state Football Team by the New York State Football Coaches Association.
Gary Kindberg sang the national anthem and Rev. Robert Stolinski from St. James Catholic Church gave the invocation and benediction.
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.