Honoring Ethnicity

Posted: March 05, 1987

Stan Musial, Ted Kluszewski, Carl Yastrzemski and Tom Gola are members of this hall of fame. Greg Luzinski is a nominee for it.

This is the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame in Orchard Lake, Mich., near Detroit. Gola, the former La Salle basketball All-America and NBA player, was inducted into the Hall in the mid-1970s.

"It was a beautiful couple of days," Gola recalled yesterday. "They had a family chaffeur you around. The first night, we went to a Polish club. The next night, the Tigers had a ceremony on the field. Then they had a ceremony at St. Mary's College, where the hall is located."

By then, Gola was kielbasa'd out.

Memorabilia from other Polish-Americans such as Bill Mazeroski, Johnny Lujack, Tony Zale, Tony Kubek and Alex Wojciechowicz is included in the hall.

Luzinski, the former Phillies outfielder who now is baseball and football coach at Holy Cross High in Delran, N.J., had just returned from a skiing trip and was not aware he was on the ballot. Other nominees include Hank Majeski, the ex-Philadelphia Athletics third baseman, and former NFL players Danny Abramowicz and Pete Banaszak.

Ron Jaworski, wherever he may be, is a sure-shot nominee some day.

Gola, now with the Valley Forge Investment Corp., laughed when recalling the first ethnic athletic honor he almost received.

"At La Salle, in 1952," Gola said, "I was named to the Italian All- American team. But when they contacted the school, they found out I was Polish. So they removed my name and honored Eddie Altieri from our team instead."


If anyone needs a car phone or a message beeper, it is Dick Rago.

Rago, a former Villanova basketball player and Wildcat mascot, is an attorney in Wilmington, Del. Rago also coaches the St. Elizabeth's High boys basketball team.

In his spare time, Rago watches his sons play for Salesianum School. His oldest son, Rich, is a 6-3, 220-pound all-state tackle.

Today's schedule is typical for Rago (Villanova class of '67). Work in the office, then coach St. Elizabeth's (8-14) against Tower Hill (15-6) tonight in a second-round state tournament game.

"This is my first year as head coach," Rago said last night. "I was the JV coach for three years."

How does someone go from playing at Villanova to serving as the mascot?

"I broke my hand my sophomore year," Rago said. "The writing was on the wall, though. We had players like Wali Jones, George Leftwich and Billy Melchionni. I wasn't the same caliber player as they were.

"The guy who was the mascot got sick or something and my roommate, who was a manager for the basketball team, asked if I would do it.

"I wasn't anxious to do it, but I did it a few games. It turned out to be a lot of fun, especially at the tournaments."

Rago is still having fun. Who needs sleep, anyway?


Millersville's Philly Connection has led the Marauders into the NCAA Division II East Regionals.

Millersville, 26-3 and tied with Norfolk State for No. 1 in the latest Division II basketball poll, plays St. Michael's (Vt.) tomorrow night in Erie. The winner plays the Gannon-C.W. Post winner for the right to move on to the national quarterfinals.

The Marauders' scoring balance is a coach's dream. Claude Hughes (West Philadelphia High) leads the team with a 14.9 average. Following Hughes are John Fox (Cardinal O'Hara), 14.8 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounding

average; Troy Daniel (Lamberton), 13.9; Andrew Marshall (Germantown), 13.8; and Amos Clay (Strawberry Mansion), 11.2.


Lincoln University will be counting on freestylers Mike Williams and Warrick Cromer and breaststroker Carl Benbow in the National Collegiate Swimming and Diving Championships for historically black colleges tomorrow and Saturday.

Lincoln, in Oxford, Chester County, is hosting the meet that includes swimmers from Howard University, Florida A & M, Alabama A & M, Southern U., and several Atlanta schools.

Williams was named the top swimmer in the district, according to coach Sandrel Jones-Webster.


Gene Hart has been broadcasting Flyers games since the team entered the NHL 20 years ago. Hart chooses the five worst arenas to broadcast from:

1. Madison Square Garden: "The booth is too far away from the ice."

2. Winnipeg Arena: "We have to lean forward to see the ice in front of us."

3. Nassau Coliseum, Long Island: "We have to work from a platform and are vulnerable to every yahoo who walks by."

4. Hartford Civic Center: "We're up so high in the lights we feel like the Phantom of the Opera."

5. The Forum, Inglewood, Calif.: "When people stand up they block the cameras."

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