Some notes from the WPIAL Hall of Fame banquet and some other things that fell off my laptop
Kevin Orie played baseball in the major leagues. But as a senior in high school, he had planned to be a college basketball player.
Orie was at the WPIAL Hall of Fame banquet Friday night at the Doubletree Hotel in Greentree. He was a member of the 1989 Upper St. Clair football team that was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Orie and many of his football teammates were telling stories before the banquet. Orie mentioned to me how he thought his future was in basketball. Many don't realize that Orie averaged 20 points a game as a senior at Upper St. Clair and Orie said basketball was his favorite sport then.
"I was going to play basketball at St. Vincent," Orie said.
But Orie had a big senior baseball season at Upper St. Clair and things changed. He ended up playing baseball for the Indiana University Hoosiers before being drafted by the Chicago Cubs. He played four years in the major leagues with the Cubs and Florida Marlins.
Orie also was a standout defensive back on that '89 Upper St. Clair team. Considering his football, basketball and baseball talent, Orie was quite the athlete. Should he be looked at for the Hall of Fame?
Orie, by the way, now does commentary for Pirates pregame and postgame shows on The Fan 93.7.
*** Orie and 23 other players from that Upper St. Clair 1989 team attended the banquet. That was great to see so many players come back for the banquet. Heck, 24 players was probably close to half the team. Doug Whaley, former star running back on the '89 team, was one of the players at the banquet. He is now assistant GM of the Buffalo Bills.
Below is a picture of the 24 players in attendance. Orie is in the back row, sixth from the right. Whaley is in the back row, second from the left. Coach Jim Render is in the middle in the front row.
Here is a photo of the Hall of Fame inductees from Post-Gazette photographer Matt Freed.
Front row, from left, is Derek Bochna, Bob Bleggi, Frank Fuhrer III, Kelly Kovach, John Miller, Sean Miller, Mel Nash, Sara Pilarski and Mark Pilarski (Courage Award winners).
Back row, from left, is Greg Hedglin (for deceased Red Mihalik), Ron Sepic, Jess Strom, Andy Urbanic, Chuck Wagner, Tom Walker (for Neil Walker), Peter Daley (for deceased Red Worrell), Jim Render (for Upper St. Clair 1989 football team) and Brian Generalovich (for 1960 Farrell basketball team)
More Hall of Fame moments
*** Sean Miller was one of the inductees and during his speech, Miller talked about a play known as "The Dunk." It was when Miller played at Pitt and Jerome Lane shattered a backboard with a dunk.
"In my house that play is known as 'The Pass,'" Miller joked.
In case you didn't know, Miller passed the ball to Lane for "The Dunk."
Miller, now the coach at the University of Arizona, said he likes to see that play on TV because it proves to his current players that he once was a player - "and at one time I was thin," Miller said.
*** Miller's father, John, the legendary former coach at Blackhawk High School, also was inducted. Here is something that most people don't realize and John mentioned during his speech. He almost got fired after his first year at Blackhawk when he was 1-21.
*** Neil Walker was inducted and his father, Tom, was on hand to accept. An audio tape of Neil was played to the crowd. He talked about how he still is not over a triple-overtime loss in the state football championship his senior year at Pine-Richland.
*** You never know what kind of strange people might show up at an event looking for autographs, and you never know what some people want signed. I saw this Friday night for the second time in two months. People actually bring square pieces of linoleum tile for someone to sign.What?
*** The WPIAL Hall of Fame banquet was sold out for the first time. Jim Collins, assistant to the executive director at the WPIAL, did a great job in running the banquet and Collins said hotel officials reported they never hosted a banquet so large.
*** Hampton brother and sister, Mark and Sara Pilarski, were the Courage Award winners, given annually to a high school athlete who has demonstrated extraordinary courage in the midst of difficult circumstances while serving as an inspiration and role model. The award was named after John Challis, the former Freedom High School athlete whose courageous battle with cancer a few years ago became a national story.
Well, before John passed away it was his dream to start a foundation to help send youngsters with health problems on memorable trips. The dream became a reality and the John Challis Courage for Life Foundation is sending the Pilarskis on a deep sea fishing trip this week to Florida. Challis' father, Scott, met the Pilarskis at the hotel Friday night to give them final arrangements. It was nice to see.
Rider is "super"
For the first time, a college baseball team from the Mid-American Conference has made it to the NCAA Super Regional, and one of the team's top players is from the WPIAL.
Kent State won the NCAA regional in Gary, Ind., this past weekend and will play Oregon in the Super Regional this weekend. Peters Township graduate Jim Rider batted .444 (8 for 18) in the regional this weekend. Kent State beat Kentucky twice during the regional and one of the games went 21 innings. Kent State has now won 20 games in a row and Rider is second on the team in hitting with a .367 average. He has 27 doubles and 53 RBIs.
Rider was a member of the 10-player Post-Gazette All-Area Team four years ago.