The Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame will hold its 45th banquet on August 28, 2022, at the Fez in Aliquippa, PA, to honor Beaver County college athletes, high school student athletes, and championship coaches. The Hall of Fame will induct 10 new inductees and a special class of 20 "pioneers" who reached the professional level in or before 1945. All are welcome. Banquet tickets can be purchased by contacting Chad Calabria at (724) 775-2368. For additional banquet information, contact Janet Zigerell at (724) 561-3226 or email@example.com or visit the Hall of Fame website at www.bcshof.org.
The "pioneers" were uncovered through the research of the President of Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame Larry Zigerell, who over the past several years has been researching for athletes with a Beaver County connection who played professionally in or before 1945, the year that World War II ended, but had not yet been inducted into our Hall of Fame. One of the hardest things to do in sports is to make it to the ultimate level of one's sport, and, as Larry has said: "These pioneers deserve their place on the pages of sports history in Beaver County. Their stories are amazing and many of their journeys are historic. These 20 pioneers deserved a voice – an honor I have had over the past several years to research their careers and to take them from the forgotten to the forefront and, ultimately, to their rightful place as Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame inductees of the Class of 2022."
Inductees and pioneers are listed below, with more detail provided on each below the list.
Sam Bechtel (Sports Journalism, Beaver); Ron Brown (Basketball, Midland); Barry Cox (Football, Center); Jason De Luigi (Sports Medicine, Beaver); Anthony Dorsett Jr (Football, Aliquippa); Gene Epley (Coaching, Midland); Charles Fisher (Football, Aliquippa); Verquan Kimbrough (Boxing, Aliquippa); Burt Lauten (Sports Media, Riverside); John Mehno (Sports Journalism, Ambridge)
Sam Bechtel(Sports Journalism, Beaver)was the sports editor for the Beaver County Times for 13 years. As BCT sports editor, Sam was the driving force behind establishing a nationally recognized sports section and mentored many aspiring journalists.
Ron Brown (Basketball, Midland) was the power forward on Midland's 1965 WPIAL/PIAA State Basketball Championship team. The 1965 Midland Leopards had three of the best players in WPIAL history, three childhood friends, a team that starred Simmie Hill, Norm Van Lier, and the unsung hero 6-foot-4 senior power forward Ron Brown.
Barry Cox (Football, Center) received numerous accolades for his performance on the gridiron at Center High School. Barry was recruited by several NCAA Division I universities as a wide receiver but selected Eastern Kentucky University from the competitive Ohio Valley Conference.
Jason De Luigi (Sports Medicine, Beaver) During his medical career, Dr De Luigi has built a solid reputation in his extensive involvement with professional sports teams including serving as the head team physician for the Washington Wizards, medical director & head team physician for the Washington Mystics.
Anthony Dorsett Jr (Football, Aliquippa) Played at Pitt from 1991-95; the Houston Oilers (nka the Tennessee Titans) took Anthony in the sixth round of the 1996 NFL draft, where he played for the team four seasons. In 2000, Anthony was starting free safety for Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Anthony then joined the Raiders from 2000 to 2003, starting as strong safety in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Gene Epley (inducted posthumously) (Coaching, Midland) Gene coached at the Utah State University, Shippensburg (PA) State College, and the University of Virginia. In 1979, he moved to the United States Military Academy in West Point as defensive coordinator. From 1991-2002, Gene was head coach of Marietta's struggling football program and rebuilt it into one of the best in NCAA Division III during the mid-1990s.
Charles Fisher (Football, Aliquippa) Charles' talents garnered him a scholarship to West Virginia University where he began his collegiate football career as a defensive back. He played in 4 Bowl Games and was selected to play in the 1999 Senior Bowl. After completing his college career at WVU, he entered the 1999 NFL Draft where he was selected in the second round (33rd overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Verquan Kimbrough(Boxing, Aliquippa) Verquan was among the most accomplished boxers in Beaver County history. As a pro, Kimbrough fought 29 bouts and compiled a 21-5-3 record in the featherweight and lightweight divisions. He fought for championship belts seven times in some of boxing's lesser-known divisions, going 4-2-1 in those bouts.
Burt Lauten (Sports Media, Riverside) Burt has over 20 years of experience in the professional and collegiate communications ranks. In his current role with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Burt serves as the team's spokesman on all football and organizational matters. In addition to handling all day-to-day operations of the Steelers' Communications Department, he handles all media inquiries involving the team's executives.
John Mehno (inducted posthumously) (Sports Journalism, Ambridge) was an award-winning sportswriter who, for 40 years, didn't miss a Pittsburgh Pirates home game. Never having a driver's license, John rode a bus to and from each game. John was the Pirates correspondent for The Sporting News for more than ten years, and he published Pirates notes in USA Today, worked for United Press International, and had thousands of assignments with the Associated Press covering professional Pittsburgh sports teams, Pitt football, Pitt basketball, and Duquesne basketball.
Herb Bonn (b. July 14, 1914, Aliquippa, PA) Herb attended grade school in Midland from 1924-27 before his family moved to the Pittsburgh area. After his graduation from Duquesne University, Herb played basketball in the NBL for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1937-39. In 2016 Bonn was named to the Duquesne University's Men's Basketball All-Century Team.
Ray Carnelly (b. August 11, 1916, Beaver Falls, PA) After graduation, he attended Carnegie Tech where he was a member of the Tartans football team from 1935-38. In 1939, Ray was drafted by the NFL's Brooklyn Dodgers. Ray would later join the football coaching staff for the West Virginia University Mountaineers.
Sam Cooper (b. February 1, 1909, Venetia, PA) Sam enrolled at Geneva College in 1929, was a four-year starting tackle for the Covenanters. Due to his gridiron reputation, in 1932, scouts for the Pittsburgh Pirates (nka the Pittsburgh Steelers) signed him as a lineman for their 1933 inaugural season.
Red Davis (b. November 14, 1907, Franks, OH) Red earned four varsity letters in football during his years at Geneva College, playing defense and offense. In 1933 he played for the NFL's Portsmouth Spartans (nka Detroit Lions) and the first Philadelphia Eagles team.
Jerry Dennerlein (b. December 1, 1915, Ambridge, PA) In his early years, Jerry lived in the Baden area. During the summer of 1931, his family moved to California where he would continue to play football in high school and at St. Mary's College, Moraga, CA. Jerry was the 24th overall pick in round three by the New York Giants in the 1937 NFL draft. Jerry played in every Giants game in 1937 and 1940. NFL Hall of Famer Steve Owen was his coach both years with the Giants.
Rip DePascal (b. April 13, 1916, Aliquippa, PA) After high school graduation, Rip would play football at the University of Wichita for several years, but his time in college would be interrupted when he enlisted to join the WWII effort. Upon being honorably discharged in 1945, Rip boarded a train to Hershey, where the Pittsburgh Steelers had been in training camp. He was signed and played for the 1945 Steelers.
Rube Dessau (b. March 29, 1883, New Galilee, PA) In 1907, Rube began his Major League Baseball pitching career for the Boston Doves (nka the Atlanta Braves) of the National League. He gained national attention after he threw a pitch that hit the left hand of Pittsburgh Pirates' star and MLB Hall of Famer Honus Wagner, fracturing a bone and ending Wagner's season in the first inning of a game in Pittsburgh's Exposition Park.
Mack Flenniken (b. January 24, 1905, Fort Worth, TX) Mack joined BCSHOF coach Bo McMillen at Geneva College. Mack was a standout offensive and defensive player for the Covenanters. His professional career started in 1930, when he signed with the Chicago Cardinals (nka the Arizona Cardinals). NFL Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers was his coach and teammate.
Casey Hageman (b. May 12, 1887, Beaver Falls, PA) After graduating from Geneva College in 1911, Casey made his Major League Baseball debut in 1911 pitching a complete game for the Boston Red Sox in a 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Naps (nka the Cleveland Indians). In 1912, Casey was the star of the first game played at Boston's Fenway Park, pitching a one-hit complete game shutout win for Boston over the Harvard baseball team in an exhibition game and driving in the first two runs in Fenway Park history.
Art Haley (b. October 17, 1895, Beaver Falls, PA) His family moved to Ohio, where he attended high school and graduated in 1915. After graduating from Akron University in 1919, Art quarterbacked the Akron Indians, a semi-pro football team in the Ohio League's final year before joining the American Football Professional Association (AFPA) in 1920 with the Canton Bulldogs. Jim Thorpe was his coach and teammate.
Max Hicks (b. November 6, 1892, Beaver Falls, PA) Max attended Beaver Falls High School and would later enroll at Geneva College, where he played football for the Covenanters in 1915. He joined the U.S. Army in 1918 and upon his discharge he played for the 1921 Hammond Pros in the American Professional Football Association (APFA) which became the NFL in 1922.
Bill Laughlin (b. December 10, 1915, Hookstown, PA) After graduating from Washington & Jefferson in 1938, Bill traveled to Warren, PA, to join the Warren Penns/Cleveland White Horses of the National Basketball League (nka NBA).
Al Maglisceau (b. May 21, 1904, Pittsburgh, PA) Al played football at Geneva College from 1924 through 1928, lettering all four years as an offensive and defensive tackle. In 1929, Al would sign as a lineman for the 1929 Frankford Yellow Jackets of the National Football League (NFL).
Ernie Meyer (b. June 23, 1904, West Bridgewater, PA) Following his high school graduation, Ernie attended Geneva College, where he was a standout lineman for the Geneva football team in the mid-1920s. He played football in the National Football League in 1930 in the inaugural season for the Portsmouth Spartans (nka the Detroit Lions).
Hugh Mulcahy(b. September 9, 1913, Brighton, MA)Hughmade his Major League debut as a relief pitcher for the Phillies in Pittsburgh's Forbes Field. In 1941, Hugh would become the first Major League player to be drafted into the Armed Services for World War II. Upon his honorable discharge, Hugh returned to the Phillies. Eventually, Hugh would sign as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates to be close to his wife and family who had lived in their home in Beaver most of his career while he traveled. Until his retirement, the White Sox hired Hugh as a minor-league pitching coach and scout.
Ted Reed (b. October 18, 1890, Beaver, PA) Ted was a prominent Beaver County businessman, a scholar, and an athlete. Born in Beaver, Ted was a 1913 graduate of Princeton University, where he played baseball. In 1915, Ted reached the major leagues as a third baseman with the Newark Pepper of the Federal League, which was a third major league in 1915.
Pop Rising (b. January 24, 1877, Industry, PA) Pop played professionally for the New London Whalers in the Connecticut State League from 1902 to 1904. On August 10, 1905, Pop played in his first Major League Baseball game, as a pinch hitter for the Boston Americans (nka the Boston Red Sox) against the Detroit Tigers. Rising was a teammate of Cy Young.
Joe Schepner (b. August 10, 1895, Aliquippa, PA) After nearly four years in the minor leagues, at age 24, Joe arrived in the major leagues when he was signed as a third baseman with the St. Louis Browns (nka the Baltimore Orioles) of the American League. On September 25, 1919, in Chicago's Comiskey Park I Joe played against five of the "Eight Men Out" with Shoeless Joe Jackson in left field for the White Sox.
Jack Stirling (b. November 16, 1917, Beaver Falls, PA) Jack was a lifelong resident of Beaver County. He graduated from Beaver Falls, enrolled at Geneva College where he played basketball as a center. In 1937, Jack joined the Warren Penns of the National Basketball League. In 1938, Jack joined another National Basketball League team: the Pittsburgh Pirates, who played their home games in the Duquesne University Gym in Pittsburgh.
Ren Wylie (b. December 14, 1861, Elizabeth Township, PA) A graduate of Geneva College, at the age of 20-year-old, Ren made his debut as a centerfielder for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys (nka the Pittsburgh Pirates). Ren's first appearance was against the Baltimore Orioles making him the first baseball player with a Beaver County connection to play in the major leagues.
This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame to induct 30 new members this month