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Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hall of Fame lineup is overloaded

The Tri-County Area Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame organization has a big, big problem. There are 12 nominees for a seat at this fall’s 31st annual induction dinner … and room for only six of them.

Longtime chapter president Elmer “Chump” Pollock could’ve set up two head tables and offered dinner as well as a late-night snack to accommodate everyone.

All are more than worthy of induction.

Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works.

So pray the postal service is up to their pledge of getting the mail through on time because, in all likelihood, chapter members will struggle paring down their respective ballots and getting them back to Pollock to meet the deadline, which is the end of this month.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the list of nominees is loaded, packed with a dozen current or former athletes and coaches who have enriched the area’s storied sports history. Their exploits on the athletic fields and sidelines have impacted the three major sports – baseball, basketball and football, and been oh so significant in the growth and success of two once-unpopular sports – soccer and wrestling.

As ridiculous as it may sound, you could write each name on a slip of paper, fold it up and drop them into a hat, then pull out six. You couldn’t go wrong with that six. You could list all 12 names alphabetically, take the first six, or go with every other one, and you couldn’t go wrong with that six, either.

Oh, the names?

Enough of the suspense … here’s the ballot (listed alphabetically so there is no influencing the voters) and brief bios on the nominees:

Aaron Beasley: A 1981 graduate of Pottstown, where he is still regarded as one of the Trojans’ most outstanding athletes. Excelled in cross country, football, basketball and track, helping those teams to a combined five league and five District 1 titles. … Named MVP in both football and basketball at Valley Forge Military Academy. … Attended West Virginia University, where he was a three-year starter in the secondary, two-time team captain, was named a first-team All-American, and set Big East Conference records for interceptions in a season (10) and career (18). … Drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he started for six seasons before moving over to the New York Jets for three seasons and then closing his professional career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2005.

John Bensinger: Has been at The Hill School for 28 years, where he has been the dean of faculty, chairman and teacher of theology and philosophy, and served as the school’s chaplain in addition to coaching basketball and track. … Has also coached the boys soccer program for 21 seasons, guiding the Blues to three undisputed Mid-Atlantic Prep League championships and a 232-110-46 mark in his career.

Edward E. Brown: A 1978 graduate of Pottstown, where he was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball. … A 1983 graduate of Shippensburg University, where lettered for four seasons, served as a co-captain as a junior and senior, helping the Red Raiders to the 1982 NCAA Division II semifinals. … A three-time All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection as a defensive end. … Still owns Shippensburg records for sacks in a season (10) and career (24). … Member of the Shippensburg University Hall of Fame.

Dave Caldwell: A 1978 graduate of Owen J. Roberts, where he was an All Ches-Mont League basketball player and golfer. … A 1983 graduate of the University of Delaware, where he was a standout basketball player for the Blue Hens. … Assistant basketball coach at St. Francis University for six years. … Head boys basketball coach at Spring-Ford, where in 16 years he led the Rams to 10 Final Four appearances and three league titles while compiling a 253-132 career record. … Named The Mercury’s Coach of the Year seven times.

Jill Burkert Detweiler: A 1984 graduate of Pottsgrove, where she was a three-year starter in tennis and four-year starter in both basketball and track; an All Ches-Mont League selection in all three sports as a junior and senior; and set school records in basketball for rebounds (1,161) and points scored (1,589). … A 1988 graduate of Philadelphia University (former Philadelphia Textile), where she was a two-time team MVP; two-time Academic All-American; and Associated Press All-American selection. … Scored more than 1,000 points in college and still holds the school record for rebounds in a game (26). … President’s Awards recipient in 1988.

James “Doc” Finn: A graduate of Canisius College, where he was a four-year starter as a catcher. … Took over The Hill School’s baseball program in 1978 and has led the Blues to three undefeated seasons, five Pennsylvania Independent School State Tournament championships and a 261-120 overall record. … More than 100 of his players have continued their academic and athletic careers in college, and four have gone on to play professionally. … Is thought to be the only baseball coach in the nation with a doctorate degree in classics.

James Goodhart: A 1968 graduate of Pottstown, where an outstanding infielder and All Ches-Mont League selection. … Two-time Pottstown American Legion baseball team MVP. … Graduate of Moravian College, where he was a three-time All-Middle Atlantic Conference selection and the school’s Athlete of the Year in 1972. … Amassed more than 100 wins in four seasons as the manager of Pottstown’s American Legion program. … Developed and coached Pottstown AAU baseball program in 1998, helping send 22 players to college and another two into professional baseball.

Bruce Hallman: A 1971 graduate of Boyertown, where he was an outstanding wrestler and pole-vaulter. … A 1975 graduate of Shippensburg University, where he was a standout as a pole-vaulter. … Served as an assistant wrestling coach at Boyertown before taking over the program in 1981. … In 24 years as the Bears’ head coach, his teams won several Berks Conference regular-season championships as well as sectional titles in both Districts 3 and 1. … Finished with 303 career wins. … Summit Award recipient. … Member of Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.

Rodney Johnson: A 1974 graduate of Spring-Ford, where he was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball. A 1978 graduate of Temple University, where he was an All-East Coast Athletic Conference selection and MVP, and the leading hitter to help the Owls to the College World Series. … Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year in 1979. ... Won just under 500 games as the manager of the Spring City and Paoli American Legion programs. … Member of the Temple University and Montgomery County Coaches’ Hall of Fames.

Tom McGee: A 1971 graduate of Hofstra University who began his basketball coaching career at Norristown’s Rittenhouse and Eisenhower junior high schools and compiled a 94-12 record. … Served as head boys basketball coach at St. Pius X in 1978. In 13 years, guided the Lions to several district titles as well as the PIAA-Class A state championship in 1979 and finished with 187 career wins. … Won another 145 games in seven years as the head boys coach at Norristown High School. … Two-time Philadelphia-area Coach of the Year. … Summit Award recipient.

Bill Neil: A 1977 graduate of Perkiomen Valley, where he was an All Bux-Mont League two-way lineman and wrestler. … Is still the only Viking to win section, district, regional and state titles in wrestling, capturing the PIAA-Class AA championship at heavyweight in 1977. … Four-year lettermen as a defensive lineman at the University of Pittsburgh, where he helped the Panthers win three of four postseason bowl games, finish in the Top 10 rankings all four years and go 39-8-1 in his career there. … Played in the NFL for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

Stan Rogers: A graduate of St. Pius X, where he was an outstanding lineman for the Winged Lions. … Three-year letterman and starter at the University of Maryland, where he was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, All-American honoree, and recipient of Coaches Award (Oustanding Lineman). … A fifth-round selection in the NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, where he played in all 14 games in 1975 before a severe knee injury ended his career.

* * *

Now, think the Tri-County Area chapter’s membership has quite a task ahead of them?

The 31st annual induction dinner will be held 6:30 p.m. Saturday, October 18 at the Elks Home on High Street in Pottstown. Tickets are available from any chapter member or by writing P.O. Box 3038, Stowe, Pa. 19464.

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