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William Dagen, President of the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame

October 29, 2011

William Dagen,  President of the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame:

First, how and when do the Beaver County HOF get started?

The Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame had its first banquet in 1976 and has been running yearly ever since.  The organization originally consisted of 13 sports-minded figures in the county.  One of those happened to be Tito Francona, by the way.  The first President and generally known as the founder of the BCSHOF was Alex Scassa, Sr.  It was always Alex’s goal of writing a history of sports in Beaver County.  An annual banquet basically took the place of detailing Beaver County’s rich heritage in sports.
 
How are athletes selected – what us the process and criteria?

Those selected are nominated by the public and or committee members.  We have a website, as you well know, that contains all of the vital and pertinent information for our banquet.  We try to keep a regular schedule, i.e., the deadline for nominations is October 15 of each year.  We then vote on the candidates in November and have the banquet in late April or early May of the following year.  At present, the criteria for possible induction is to be at least 35 years of age at the time of the banquet, and to have a reasonable connection to Beaver County in their sports background.

How can local fans get involved or just learn more about the athletes that have been nominated?

We place newspaper announcements each year requesting nomination forms on candidates.  Those candidates retain eligibility for induction for a five-year period.  After that, if they have not as yet been selected, a new nomination form has to be received to start a new five-year period of being on our ballot.

There is seemingly and inordinate amount of talent from this one area. Why do you suppose this is?

Beaver County, although a rather small area, has a rich history in athletics.  Perhaps it is the closeness of the schools and the rivalries that have developed that has encouraged the fierce competition.  We are also home of some outstanding coaches, many of which are in our Hall of Fame for producing to such outstanding talent.

The names, in a lot of instances, are nationally known.  Mike Ditka, Joe Namath, Tito and Terry Francona, Press and Pistol Pete Maravich, Brad Davis, Sean Miller, Norm Van Lier, Joe Walton, Jim Covert, Sean Gilbert, Ty Law, Tony Dorsett, Babe Parilli, John Skorupan, Candy Young, Teddy Yarosz, Mike Lucci and Cal Hubbard are all members of the BCSHOF.  All are Beaver County high school products with the exception of Cal Hubbard.  Hubbard, the only person in both the baseball and football professional halls of fame, went to Geneva College for his county connection.

What have you noticed as changes in the  type of athlete coming out of the area over the past few years? Are different sports becoming more prominent? Athletes more diverse?

We have noticed athletes getting more notice in a lot of different sports in our valley.  Track & field, cross country, golf and volleyball have been turning out great players and teams from our area.  I’m sure we will see many of those athletes make our Hall of Fame once they become eligible due to their athletic prowess

Who have been some of the more memorable athletes nominated that you’ve  met and what made them so?

I, personally, have been on the committee since the 1980 banquet (although not continuously…I was off the committee for three years in the interim).  My most notable memory, of course, was the induction of Joe Namath.  Joe came late to the banquet that evening and missed the group photo of inductees.  We had over 630 people in attendance (our largest banquet to date), and the calls were coming fast and furious to see if Namath would attend.  At the time (1982), Joe was filming a movie in South America and we weren’t sure he would be able to attend. 

When we got word just about a week before the banquet he would be there, our ticket sales went up dramatically.  We had the TV stations and the Pittsburgh media all present, and we even got a picture of the event in the New York Times with Joe giving his speech just in front of his induction poster.

Any last thoughts for readers?

Of course, the bulk of our inductees do not have national names, but they have excelled in their chosen profession.  We are very proud of the people we have inducted over these many years.  We thank them for bringing great recognition to our beloved area.  Their “fame” has been our county’s gain.

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