The Crosscutters Hot Stove League Banquet, held on January 17th, was considered a success by attendees and organizers. The banquet was highlighted by the presence of former standout Pirate relief pitcher Kent Tekulve, ESPN sportscaster Tim Kirkjian, newest Bowman Field Hall of Fame inductee Chris Carlin, and newest Williamsport Sports Walk inductee Denise Day. Regrettably, Ed Ott, who was supposed to be one of the participants, had to bow out due to health reasons.
The banquet was a success on the charity front as well, having raised more than $12,000 for the Lycoming County United Way.
I interviewed Tekulve before the banquet and asked if he remembered Williamsport when he played in the New York-Penn League in 1969, a year when Williamsport was in the league as the Williamsport Astros.
“I remember that we played Williamsport, and I think I remember coming here for a three-game series, but I don’t have any specific recollection about Williamsport,” Tekulve said.
He had a lot more to say about his friend and former catcher — Muncy’s Ed Ott.
“Ed and I came up together through the minor leagues. He was a roommate and protector,” Tekulve said. “He’s a great guy and great handler of pitchers and was a great mentor to Steve Nicosia, who, along with Ed, was one of our catchers on that 1979 Pirate championship team.”
Tekulve was asked about that championship ’79 team. “We all worked together and picked each other up. Everybody on the team contributed, from the most prominent starters like Willie (Stargell) and Dave Parker and the pitching staff to the utility players like young Matt Alexander. It was a great team to be part of.”
In that championship season, Tekulve recorded 31 saves and won 10 games. His pitching prowess was one of the main factors in the Pirates’ success in 1979.
The newest Bowman Field Hall of Fame honoree, Chris Carlin, who was a radio broadcaster for the then Williamsport Cubs in 1994 and 1995 and who went on to broadcasting prominence with ESPN, WFAN, and other outlets, was overwhelmed and joyful about returning to Williamsport to accept his honor.
“It was great coming back here. I had a flood of memories and emotions as I drove across the Market Street Bridge,” Carlin said. “This is really where I got my start. Doug and Gabe gave me that chance. The first year, I worked with Bob Behler, who went on to be the voice of University of Massachusetts football and who is now the voice of Boise State football.
“I think, in many ways, the highlight for me in Williamsport came in 1995 when Ken Sawyer asked me to be a sideline reporter at the Little League World Series. What a fantastic experience,” Carlin declared. “I had a variety of experiences with the Williamsport Cubs. In addition to broadcasting, I did such tasks as help with the speed pitch game, as well as being on the tarp crew. There was never a dull moment. I can’t say enough about my Williamsport experience and how I cherish the time I spent here.”
The newest Sports Walk inductee, Denise Day, who was a standout softballer at the University of Nebraska and, during her time there in 1985, played in the NCAA women’s softball championship game, was grateful for her honor. She was also fulsome in her praise of late sportscaster Bill Byham, who was also one of her teachers.
“Mr. Byham always encouraged me, and he was responsible for me getting my scholarship to the University of Nebraska,” Day said. He mailed my clippings out there and attested to my character and grades. I’m very grateful to him.”