by Jim Riggs
February 21, 2006
A League Of Their Own
The population of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame reached 110 as a coach, a golf pro, a sports supporter and a football player were inducted at the Holiday Inn.
The emcee for the 25th induction dinner was Jim Roselle of WJTN Radio. He pointed out that for such a special anniversary date, he thought the organization would have sought an special celebrity to serve as the emcee. But Roselle who kept the affair upbeat all night, figured he was chosen because, “I work cheap and I’m clean.”
But to commemorate the 25th induction dinner, Roselle brought along his own “band.” The trio of Ralph Rasmussen on the clarinet, John Wilder on the trumpet and Steve Bush on the tuba played two lively renditions of “Take Me Out to The Ball Game.”
Then it was time to “play ball” and Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Ron Melquist had the pleasure of presenting rings and plaques to the four inductees.
The first was Cusimano who was the Jamestown High School track coach from 1971–86, the junior varsity football coach from 1959–86 and was also a basketball official for 25 years. Cusimano, who is known by many as simply “Coach,” admitted he was humbled by his induction.
"I performed a job and I got paid for it,” was the way he summed up his carreer. “I had a hell of a good time with the kids. If I had a choice I’d do it all over again.”
Stan Marshaus, an Ohio native, who has been the golf pro or director of golf at Chautauqua Club since 1974, felt the same way.
“I immediately thought, “Why?” he explained was his reaction when contacted about his induction. “I really think my only qualification for this honor is the fact that I devoted about 40 years of my life to the game that I really love and 35 of those years have been in Chautauqua County.”
Marshaus knows something about inductions because he was inducted into the Western New York PGA Hall of Fame in 2002.
Present was the leading scorer for the 1944 JHS basketball team and he went on to play at Allegheny College. But after his playing days were over, Present returned to Jamestown and was one of the biggest supporters of the area high school teams, particularly JHS and at Jamestown Community College.
Present’s grandson, Nicholas Masterson of Valdosta, GA, accepted the award and said, “I always knew he was a big supported of sports, especially Jamestown sports. One big question I always had in the back of my mind was what did he ever do to deserve such great recognition. It wasn’t until talking about all the things he was involved in that I realized how many lives he touched throughout his life in regards to sports.
The Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame also received a letter from a Southwestern Central School graduate now living in North Carolina who recalled Present attending his football games and offering support.
“He was more interested in assistance and helping,” he wrote.
The final inductee, Raffa, lettered in football, basketball and track at JHS in the late 1940’s and went on to earn a full football scholarship to Western Reserve University where he lettered for three years.
“This is one heck of an honor,” said Raffa, who has an orthodontics practice in Ashtabula and Mentor, Ohio. This is an honor I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
And he noted he can thank athletics for his education, his wife and his three sons.
“You wonder what you get out of it,” he said. “I wouldn’t be where I am at today if it wasn’t for athletics.”
Guest speaker, Rob Ray, a native of Starling, Ontario, who played 14 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and two with the Ottawa Senators firmly planted his tongue in cheek when he announced, “I was really insulted at the beginning that you played only the American national anthem. You guy’s are just a little upset about the way we are dominating the Olympics right now.”
He noted that when it came time to be drafted into the National Hockey League, “I was overlooked by every team. Buffalo was the only team that game me an opportunity.”
He made the most of that opportunity when in his first NHL game on Oct. 21, 1989 he scored on his first shot against Pittsburgh. He also has an assist.
I never had a game that equaled that one,” he said.
That’s because Ray was mainly known as an enforcer. He finished with 2,897 penalty minutes for Buffalo, which is the NHL record for penalty minutes with one team. He also finished his career with 3,207 penalty minutes, which ranks sixth in the NHL.
Ray noted that not only did he score on his first shift in the NHL with Buffalo, but also on his last shift in the NHL with Ottawa.
Before the inductees were honored, induction dinner chairman, Chip Johnson presented plaques to the following area athletes who won state or national honors since the last induction dinner:
Ike Bobseine: New York State junior service rifle champion.
John Papincak: Member of state Class C boy’s basketball first–team all–stars from Maple Grove.
Joel Wiggers: Member of the state Class D football first–team all–stars from Panama.
Jon Williams: Member of the state Class C football first-team all-stars from Silver Creek.
Jason Bonasera: Member of the state Class C football first-team all-stars from Silver Creek.
Andy Schittene: Member of the state Class C football first-team all-stars from Silver Creek.
Matt Mazgaj: State 215 pound state champion from Southwestern.
Aaron Barton: State 24 and under and national racquetball champion.
Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association Pee Wee Team: State and Northeast regional champions
Chautauqua County Youth Hockey Association Midget team: State champions.
Pine Valley Girl’s Basketball Team: Class D state champions.
Tim Nobles: State Class D girl’s basketball coach of the year from Pine Valley.
Bryelle Cortwright: Member of the state Class D girls basketball first-team all-stars from Pine Valley.
Brianna Colburn: Class D girl’s basketball state tournament most valuable player from Pine Valley.
Falconer girl’s softball team: State Class B champions.
Shelby Carlson: Member of the state Class B girls softball first-team all-stars from Falconer and Class B state player of the year.
Tabitha Stenstrom: Member of the state Class B girls softball first-team all-stars from Falconer.
Bill Petransky: State men’s division senior release world archery champion.
YMCA gymnastics team: Developmental level state champions.
Carlyle Swanson: Junior division developmental level state champion from YMCA
Megan Tomassini: State senior division developmental level state champion YMCA.
Haley Bator: State junior division developmental level state champion YMCA.
Todd Peterson read the biographies of the inductees, the national anthem was sung by Tony Dolce, and the invocation and benediction were by Rev. Gregory Steed of the First Baptist Church.
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.