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Bowman Hall of Fame and Sports Walk Honorees Inducted at Crosscutters’ Hot Stove League Banquet

This year’s annual Williamsport Crosscutters Hot Stove League Banquet will have a new wrinkle to it when it is held Wednesday, January 24 at the Genetti Hotel and Convention Center. The event is presented in part by Panda Patriot Power, River Valley Transit, WRAK 1400AM, and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Since 2009 the Hot Stove League

This year’s annual Williamsport Crosscutters Hot Stove League Banquet will have a new wrinkle to it when it is held Wednesday, January 24 at the Genetti Hotel and Convention Center. The event is presented in part by Panda Patriot Power, River Valley Transit, WRAK 1400AM, and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

Since 2009 the Hot Stove League Banquet has been the occasion in which the latest honoree to the Bowman Field Hall of Fame has been inducted. That continues this year. But new this year will be the honoring of three individuals who made significant and lasting contributions to the sporting scene of Lycoming County through the “Williamsport Sports Walk.”

The newest Bowman Field Hall of Fame inductee will be Bill Nichols Jr. Nichols, who serves as the Finance Director for the City of Williamsport and General Manager of River Valley Transit, has been instrumental in over $4 million in recent renovations to Bowman Field and was the city representative to Major League Baseball for the debut of the MLB-Little League Classic last August.
I can tell you from my personal experience as chairman of the Bowman Field Commission that Bill has been a key figure in finding creative ways to finance the many fine and needed renovations that have been made to the venerable uptown ballpark. He worked with diligence and efficiency to find state and other funding sources to make all work to the field possible. From my perspective, he is indeed a worthy member of the Bowman Field Hall of Fame.

The banquet will also feature the announcement of three additional members of the Williamsport Sports Walk sponsored by River Valley Transit — former stock car driver Blaise Alexander Jr., long-time Little League President Dr. Creighton Hale, and Williamsport sports promoter Bill Pickelner, who spent over 50 years as chairman of the Bowman Field Commission.

The Sports Walk’s mission is to honor and recognize individuals from Lycoming County who have positively affected their communities through sports and athletics. Its focus is individuals who have achieved professional status, excelled in amateur athletics, and/or improved the lives of others through coaching, volunteerism, and the advancement of local athletics. The Williamsport Sports Walk debuted in 2016 in downtown Williamsport with 20 honorees.

I had the privilege of having known two of this year’s honorees, Bill Pickelner and Dr. Creighton Hale.

Bill was a giant on the local sports scene. He was an avid fan and supporter of all things sports. He was the one-time owner of Williamsport’s professional basketball team, the Williamsport Billies, who competed in the old Eastern Basketball League, which would see many of its players and coaches excel and play in the National Basketball League. The softball team that he sponsored in the local softball leagues, the “Picklener Coalers,” were some of the best softball teams ever seen in this area.

His first love may have been his beloved Bowman Field, and seeing all of the professional baseball teams that played on its grass over the years. He was a spark plug for keeping professional baseball flourishing here as the man who headed up the Nine-County Baseball Boosters Association that oversaw professional baseball affairs here for a number of years. He is the man that persuaded Paul Velte, owner of the Geneva (NY) Cubs, to Williamsport, where they have since become the Crosscutters. Pickelner’s stewardship and advocacy of Bowman Field were legendary during his 50 years of service on the Bowman Field Commission, serving as chairman of that Commission for many years.

Dr. Creighton Hale was a trailblazer in the field of athletic safety and would go on to serve as President and CEO of Little League Baseball International Inc. It was a labor of love for him. I have many fond memories of casually talking with Dr. Hale during some of my downtimes as press box announcer at Volunteer Stadium during the Little League World Series. It was always interesting to hear his stories and anecdotes about his days at the LLB helm.

Guests at this year’s event include two former Phillies from the 1993 National League Championship team — second baseman Mickey Morandini and relief pitcher Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Original League in Williamsport, the birthplace of Little League Baseball.

The evening will consist of a full-course dinner, along with interviews and question and answer segments with the special guests. There will also be both live and silent auctions of sports memorabilia.

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