by Scott Kindberg
December 12, 1996
Diethrick's Hall Of Fame Honor 'A No-Brainer'
When Ron Tellefsen, the president and chief executive officer of Babe Ruth Baseball League Inc. walked with Russ Diethrick from a parking garage in downtown Jamestown to the Town Club for a noon luncheon Friday, he discovered what people in this area have known for a long time: There might not be a more recognized or revered man in Southern Chautauqua County.
In fact, by the time the two men arrived at the Pine Street restaurant, they had walked only a short distance. But during that brief constitutional, Diethrick had greeted, by Tellefsen's estimates, 10 people.
About an hour later, Tellefsen announced to about 20 Babe Ruth supporters that Diethrick will be saying a figurative "hello" to an entirely different and decidedly exclusive group.
He's soon to be inducted into the Babe Ruth Hall of Fame.
As Robert Faherty, a Babe Ruth League commissioner from Trenton, New Jersey, put it: "It was a no-brainer."
For while inductions at any level are sometimes subject to much debate, this one was indeed a deserving one.
His Babe Ruth resume would make the Bambino himself proud.
Diethrick began in the program as a manager in the Jamestown Babe Ruth League in 1955-56. Along the way, he served in various capacities locally, including the board of directors of the local league, co-tournament director of a Mid-Atlantic Regional, president of the Jamestown Babe Ruth League and World Series host president seven times. He also worked for Babe Ruth League Inc. from 1991 to 1993 as its director of development and is currently a member of its advisory board.
The nomination, by Allen Elliott of Surrey, British Columbia, came during Babe Ruth League's board of directors meeting earlier this month in Fort Lauderdale.
"Larry Magers (a Jamestown resident and board member) got up and spoke openly that if Russ Diethrick doesn't get in the Hall of Fame, who would get in the Hall of Fame," Tellefsen recalled.
According to the Babe Ruth Information and Media Guide, Diethrick is in some select company. Among those individuals he'll be joining are Lefty Gomez, Vada Pinson and Mickey Lolich; former major league umpire Tom Gorman; and Mrs. Babe Ruth. Among the organizations already honored are Coca-Cola, Hillerich & Bradley, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, the Boston Red Sox, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Rawlings Sporting Goods.
"It's much harder for the individual (to be inducted) because everybody has grown up with the program, was league president, manager and coach," Faherty said. "When they get in front of the board, the credentials have to be there. They have to know that this person has given up so much to do it. That's Russ to a tee. He's touched us in so many ways. Usually there's a lot of discussion and people give input. It was a done deal."
Diethrick preferred to deflect the attention to those around him.
"It's a very humbling happening in my life to be able to be on the roster of those who have been saluted by Babe Ruth Baseball in communities around this country. The exciting thing about this is that this tribute, like most of the others, has been the result of the work of the community, and I accept it as a recognition of what Babe Ruth Baseball has done for this community."
When Diethrick was done with his comments, glasses of champagne were lifted in his honor.
A nice touch to be sure.
But the most eloquent statement about Diethrick was seen only by me. It came in the form of three sentences scrawled on a piece of paper from Charles DeAngelo's appointment book.
"Russ Diethrick. Our shining example of integrity, perseverance and commitment to serving others," the Jamestown attorney said. "Babe Ruth Baseball is recognizing what we in Jamestown have always loved - 'our' Russ Diethrick."
And when it was time to leave, Diethrick's friends and colleagues waited in line to congratulate him. Handshakes, smiles and warm embraces followed.
The Babe must have been smiling somewhere.