by Scott Kindberg
February 22, 2011
Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame Honors Five New Inductees
LAKEWOOD – Dave Polechetti was first introduced to Bob Wisniewski 50 years ago when the two became neighbors on Deer Street in Dunkirk.
They played sports of all sorts in Wisniewski’s yard and Polechetti, younger by five years, was smitten with the athletic prowess of his new hero.
Fast-forward five decades.
Polechetti stood at the podium at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club on Monday night, serving as the presenter for Wisniewski’s introduction at the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame banquet.
“I have vivid memories of watching him play,” Polechetti said.
A trip down memory lane was the order of the evening.
Nearly 400 people listened to stories and athletic accomplishments of the five inductees – Wisniewski, Cathy Farrell, Roger MacTavish, Jim Mee and the late Billy Webb – as well as guest speakers Kevyn Adams and Tyler Myers at the 30th annual event.
“I wonder if there’s something in the water down here,” said WGRZ-TV sports director Ed Kligore, who served as master of ceremonies, “because you seem to have an incredible amount of outstanding teams and athletes. There must be some good parenting going on around here.”
Wisniewski, a four-sport captain his senior year at Dunkirk High School, who also went on to a fine athletic career at Buffalo State, agreed with Kilgore’s assessment during his induction speech.
“My parents let me do my thing as a kid,” he said. “They always encouraged and supported me. All I wanted to do was make my parents proud. If they were alive, thy would have been very proud of their son.”
“Dunkirk will shine tonight.”
But the figurative spotlight was also shared by many who have ties to Chautauqua County.
Cathy Farrell, another Dunkirk native, made her mark in tennis, highlighted by her No. 202 world ranking in 1980 and a No. 2 ranking in the Eastern Tennis Association amateur rankings in 1989.
“Sorry guys,” she said turning to Adams, a former Stanley Cup champion with the Carolina Hurricanes, and Myers, a Buffalo Sabres defenseman and the 2010 Calder Memorial Trophy winner, “but tennis is the greatest sport – physically, mentally and spiritually. We never reach perfection, but we keep on playing.”
For MacTavish, a West Ellicott resident, he keeps on officiating. A certifuied basketball referee since 1955, MacTavish was introduced by his son, Roger Jr., who estimated that his father, who is still an active member of IAABO Board 39, has officiated 3,300 games and counting.
“That, in itself, is quite an accomplishment,” he said.
But MacTavish Sr. was quick to point out that his induction “reinforces one thing.”
“My wife, Marian, is the true Hall-of-Famer in the MacTavish family.
Mee, the proprieter of Jamestown Bowling Company, said he has always looked forward to going to work and giving something back to the community.
Of course, he has provided plenty of highlights in a career that began at State Lanes in Falconer and Ten Pines Lanes in Jamestown.
“His first ball fell into the gutter,” said presenter Todd Peterson. “We figured he’d never amount to anything. I think we were wrong.”
By the time Mee was 16, he was averaging 190, including a 703 series, which in 1972 were huge numbers. All told, Mee has amassed 51 300 games and 31 800 series.
“I think he’s more than due to be inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame,” Peterson said.
Another Peterson, Greg, introduced Webb, who was described as someone who “took it upon himself to keep baseball alive” in Jamestown until a team joined the PONY League in 1939.
An entrepreneur, Webb formed “Billy Webb’s Spiders.” Among the people who played for Webb were major leaguers Hugh Bedient, Swat Erickson and Ray Caldwell. All are Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
“This is humbling, staggering,” said Karl Gustafson who accepted for his grandfather. “Look at these guys. What accomplishments.”
Because Webb died in 1935, Gustafson never knew his grandfather. But thanks to Greg Peterson, who helped prepare biographical information and produced a video on Webb, Gustafson believes he has been “introduced.”
“Every one of us has a legacy,” Gustafson said. “So for the student-athletes here, spend some time to get to know your parents. Ask questions, find out their hobbies, ask questions. You never know when things will change.”
Adams, who is a partner in O2K Worldwide Management Group and also works in the Sabres front office, played for the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes. An assistant captain on that team, Adams recalled how Rod Brind’Amour, the captain called the players together after a Game 6 loss to Edmonton.
“How often do you get a second chance or a third chance. Think of all the people who wish they could win a Stanley Cup in Game 7. We will raise the Stanley Cup over our heads.”
A few days later, Brind’Amour was right.
“It was our best game of the 117 we played that year,” Adams said.
Adams, who has homes in both Clarence and Bemus Point, brought the Cup to the shores of Chautauqua Lake for a day that summer.
Myers, a second-year defenseman, believes the Sabres can earn a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs this year.
“We believe in the leadership, and we have the character to make that push,” he said. “We hope to do that for you guys.”
NOTES: Chip Johnson served as the banquet chairman and CSHOF president Ron Melquist presented the inductees their plaques and rings… Matt Drayer, general manager of the Jamestown Jammers made a few remarks… Also in attendance was Buffalo Bills running back Jehuu Caulcrick. The former Clymer Central School and Michigan State University star was there to support the Lady Pirates basketball team, which was honored for winning the 2010 state Class D championship.
More Hall of Fame Honorees
At Monday night’s induction dinner, the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame also honored 34 of Chautauqua County’s top scholastic teams and athletes for achieving New York State championships, All-American status or all-state status in their respective sports during the past year.
Cam Baker, Chautauqua Lake: State Class D football first team
Sydney Bennink, Clymer: State Class D girls basketball first team
Caroline Benson, Maple Grove: State Class D girls cross country first team
Tyler Buckley, Fredonia: State Class C football first team
Greg Burroughs, Fredonia: State Class C football first team
Joey Campion, Jamestown: State Class AA football scholar-athlete of the year
Clymer girls basketball team: State Class D champion
Dylan Colburn, Pine Valley: State Class D baseball first team
Sam Eimers, Mercyhurst North East: NJCAA softball first team All-American
Falconer girls volleyball team: State Class C champion
Sarah Ficarro, Fredonia State: NCAA Division III All-American diving
Beth Gribble, Jamestown Community College: NJCAA Region 3 Division II women’s basketball first team all-star
Nick Guarino, Fredonia State: NCAA Division III national champion 1500 meters and one mile run
Ashley Gunnell, Falconer: State Class C volleyball first team
Corri Hannon, Falconer: State Class C volleyball first team
Dennis Hinsdale, Clymer: State Class D girls’ basketball coach of the year
Jamestown club hockey team: State champion
Asa Johnson, Frewsburg: State Class C baseball first team
Steve Kenny, Chautauqua Lake: State Class D football first team
Pat Langworthy, Southwestern: State Class C football first team
Maple Grove boys’ basketball team: State Class D champion
Maple Grove girls’ cross-country team: State Class D champion
Megan Marsh, Maple Grove: State Class D girls’ cross-country first team
Keith Martin, Jamestown Community College: NJCAA Region 3 Division II women’s basketball coach of the year
Gage Milliman, Maple Grove: State Class D football first team
John Mistretta, Southwestern: State Class C football first team
Hope Pietrocarlo, Maple Grove: State Class D girls’ cross-country first team
Jordan Saxton, Maple Grove: State Class D football first team
Chris Secky, Maple Grove: State Class D basketball player of the year
Shane Smith, Fredonia: State Class C football first team
Jordan Sherlock, Fredonia: State Class C football first team
Jake Swan, Southwestern: State Class C football first team
Christian Torres, Fredonia State: NCAA Division III All-American diving