Bridgeport’s Niekro to be inducted to Holtz HOF

EAST LIVERPOOL – Urban Meyer, head football coach at Ohio State University, will be the featured guest speaker at this year’s Lou Holtz/Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame induction banquet to be held June 24 at the St. Florian Hall in Wintersville.

Meyer, who was inducted in 2009 as a Distinguished American at the Hall of Fame, is a three-time national coach of the year.

The Class of 2013 inductees include Bridgeport native and baseball great Phil Niekro, now of Georgia, and Marianna Milajecki of Wellsville, a long-time teacher at St. Aloysius School.

Niekro, who is known as the “Grandfather of the Knuckleball,” was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. His 318 career victories are the most by a knuckleball pitcher.

Milajecki, a Polish immigrant, endured and overcome hardships to follow her dream of teaching and practice her devotion to her religious faith, according to organizers.

This year’s lifetime achievement award will be presented to Jim Render, a former East Liverpool High School assistant football coach from 1965-67. He currently coaches at Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh, where he has won five WPIAL football championships and reached the state finals four times, winning twice. He has won more games than any high school football coach in Western Pennsylvania history with a current record of 364-113-5 with five WPIAL titles and two state championships in 42 years of coaching.

The Six Family of Chester and Newell will be honored with the family heritage award. Brothers Norm, Wayne, Leonard and Lester, now deceased, and their families will receive special recognition at this year’s event. From construction and real estate holdings to recycling, hospitality and riverfront operations, the name Six surfaces in virtually every aspect of the region’s daily life, according to organizers. Their involvement in education, religion and athletics throughout the Tri-State Area has been well documented.

Tickets for the dinner, which serves as the Hall’s primary fundraiser, are on sale now at the Hall of Fame for $100, half of which is tax deductible. Tables seating 10 are available for $900. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with appetizers available at 6 p.m. Dinner is cornish hens and beef stroganoff, along with spring vegetables, red potatoes and a dessert of fruit mousse.

Coach Holtz will address the crowd.

Also June 24 at the St. Florian Hall at 5:30 p.m. is the Hall of Fame’s education banquet honoring students receiving the Life Improvement Scholarship and teachers receiving the I Believe in YOUth grants. In addition to hearing Holtz, those at the education dinner will hear presentations from Jim Connelly, inducted in 2002 as a Hall of Fame Distinguished American, and from Amber Lattner, who was an All-American soccer player at Notre Dame.