The Post-Journal

Parkhurst, Champion Remembered As Four Are Inducted Into HOF

It was a night of remembering at the 24th annual Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner Monday at the Holiday Inn.

Before the organization honored its four new inductees and heard of their accomplishments, two important board members, including one who was a charter inductee, were remembered.

Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Ron Melquist announced that the event was dedicated to 1982 charter inductee and board member Lyle Parkhurst, who died earlier this month. And the event was also in the memory of long-time board member John Champion, who passed away Thursday.

The newest members of the Hall of Fame honored were Jim Adamczak, the late Jim Hurst, Ron Graham and Anne Tenney Smith.

No doubt Adamczak saw Parkhurst behind the plate numerous times when he was a standout softball pitcher in the 1960s and 1970s in the Jamestown area. He tossed more than 25 no-hitters, including three perfect games, in his 17-year career. The highlight of his career was in 1967 when he pitched a two-hit 1-0 win over Eddie Feigner and his four-man team, the King and His Court.

“It was just a great time over that period of years,” Adamczak said about his outstanding softball career that came about because of an injury that ended his days of playing baseball.

Softball was so popular during Adamczak’s era that tournaments were “the only game in town” when held at Bergman Park. He recalled officials from Jamestown’s professional baseball team in the PONY League calling softball tournaments personnel and asking, “How about you postponing your games. You guys are drawing more than we are.”

And that’s mainly because the fans wanted to see Adamczak pitch.

Hurst was a self-taught pool player from the age of 12 and in more than 40 years of playing he became one of the best. The Sherman resident competed in numerous tournaments in the northeast and in 1982 he was one of a select group of 64 players from around the world to participate in the World Championship of Billiards at New York City as an amateur and again in 1983 at Niagara Falls when he was professional.

‘It would have meant an awful lot to him,” son Bryan said of his later father’s induction.

And pool meant an awful lot to his father.

“He loved the game more than anyone I know,” Bryan said. “My father was hardly ever home. When he wasn’t working, he was shooting pool.”

He noted his mother, Anna Mae, supported her late husband’s love of the game. Bryan said there was a famous saying in the household” “Anna, may I go shoot pool?”

Another inductee thanking his wife was Ron Graham.

“She was left home many a time with small children until they were old enough to traipse along with me,” he said.

Graham lettered in basketball and track at Jamestown High School and took his talents to Jamestown Community College and starred there, which is why he was named one of JCC’s 50 Greatest Athletes.

But Graham is best known as the co-founder of the Chautauqua Striders track club in 1979 and was the executive director and coach from 1879-92. He coached 21 athletes who eventually competed in NCAA Division I track and field, and eight TAC-USATF national champions. And it’s when he began “traipsing around.”

The other co-founder of the Striders was the late Dan Feather, who was inducted in 1993.

“I just wish I could split this in half and give it to Dan,” Graham said of his honor.

Graham noted, “I’ve always believed every adult that comes in contact with a child is a role model. I had the cream of the crop in Jamestown.”

He highlighted names such as Spiro Bello, Russ Diethrick, Komo Tane, Harold Leach, John “Dutch” Leonard, Terry Ransbury, George Bataitis, Clarence “Bo” Hunter and Herbie Cunningham.

Of the group, Diethrick, Tane and Ransbury are also past inductees.

Smith echoed the previous inductees’ comments when she said, “My family are the ones who put up with all the tennis years. Thank you for your understanding.”

And they were very successful tennis years.

In 29 years of coaching boys and girls tennis at Southwestern Central School, Smith compiled a 591-106 record with both squads for a winning percentage of .848. Her boys and girls teams each won 17 division titles. The boys’ team had a 72-mtatch winning streak from 1988 to 1992 and the girls squad won 36 straight from 1999 to 2001.

She also referred to previous Hall of Fame inductees a href="nelsonturnell.php">Nelson Turnell, a href="neomaberg.php">Neoma Berg and Len Johnson as people who sparked her interest in tennis as a child.

“It’s an honor to be in the Hall of Fame with my mentors,” she said.

Smith was the first woman in the area to coach a boys’ team when she took over the Southwestern squad in 1974. She recalled the athletic director said they would try her for a year.

“I guess we know how it went,” Smith said with a smile.

Before the inductees were honored, induction dinner chairman Chip Johnson presented plaques to area teams or individuals who won national or state titles in the past year. Among the recipients were the Jamestown Community College baseball team for winning the NJ Region 3 Division III championship; and the Pine Valley girls’ basketball team for winning the state Class D title and Pine Valley player Kourtney Troutman for earning all-state honors. All-state football players honored were Curt Jones of Falconer; Steve Coan of Frewsburg; Brian Kiendl, Brandon Newell and Devin Raynor of Maple Grove; and Matt Langworthy and Matt Mazgaj of Southwestern. Cited for making the all-state golf team were Alex Bianco of Jamestown, Ryan Swanson of Sherman and Chris Stoddard of Southwestern. Maple Grove’s John Luce was honored for all-state tennis honors and Southwestern’s Bethany Anderson was cited for her state title in the shot put. Also, Mazgaj and Frank Zielinski were honored for state wrestling titles while Andy Blasdell of Jamestown was recognized for his state bowling crown. Hannah Swift of Fredonia was an all-state soccer player while her coach, Sam Conti, was named state Class B Coach of the Year. Winston Woodard III was named to the state all-academic football team while Bill Petransky won the men’s senior division national triple crown championship in archery.

The guest speaker was Don Lever, former No. 1 draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, and third overall in the NHL in 1972. He played 14 seasons with the Canucks, Flames, Rockies, Devils, and Sabres. He was assistant coach for 12 seasons with the Sabres before taking on the same position with the St. Louis Blue in 2002-2003.

Lever, who lives in Amherst, noted that when he signed as a first-round draft pick, he received a $25,000 signing bonus. Now a signing bonus is $1 million.

He was an assistant coach for the Sabres in 1998-99 when their season ended with an overtime lost to Dallas in Game 6 of the Stanly Cup Finals, the famous “No goal” game.

“It was a black eye for hockey,” Lever said. “But nothing like what’s happening now.”

He was referring to the recent cancellation of the NHL season.

“Unfortunately, the owners and the players are the worst promoters of a wonderful game,” he said.

The emcee was Jeff Russo of WKBW-TV who began his career in Jamestown. And he recalled one of his first assignments as covering the 2000 induction dinner.

The invocation and benediction were given by Rev. Lee O’Brian, pastor of Clarks Corners Community Church; Deborah Hill sang the national anthem and Todd Peterson read the biographies of the inductees.

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.